Jagar is an important ritual performance worship among the Uttarakhandi people, wherein ritual practitioners invoke gods by manifesting them ‘in person’ by possessing the bodies of their mediums. In return, individuals seek blessings, favours, or solutions from the gods, thereby extending the ritual’s influence into their everyday lives (Leavitt 2016).

Goril devta in Garhwal, or Golu devta in Kumaon, is venerated as the God of Justice in Uttarakhand. Characterised by compassion, this deity bestows divine justice upon devotees (Agarwal, 2018). The paper looks at a particular jagar enactment of Goril devta, called Tambola Ghughuti, existing at the crossroads of ritual and commercial spheres, straddling the realms of folk and mainstream. This enactment of ritual worship is featured in one of the earliest albums by Garhwali jagar singer Pritam Bhartwan, who himself hails from a hereditary community of drummers traditionally assigned a lower caste status in Uttarakhand.

The jagar unveils the story of Goril/Goriya devta’s intervention to dispense justice for ghughuti (a sacred bird among upper-caste Garhwalis), after its offsprings are killed by avaricious herders from Dotigarh, present day Doti of Sudurpashchim Province of Nepal. The multispecies dispensation of justice is taken as evidence of Goril’s compassion.

How is the ‘otherisation’ of Nepali workers different in a ritual-commercial space of music, as compared to popular mainstream music? What does the conception of ‘justice’ in the jagar tell us about the larger positioning of the Dotiyal (literally: someone from Doti, however now used as an expletive for Nepali workers) as the ‘other’, in a space where racialisation of Nepali workers (Sudurpashchim in particular) is rife (Bruslé 2007, 2008; Sharma 2013, 2014)?


The research methodology employs ‘dual framing’ (Fiol, 2016) to understand how people interpret the cultural product VCD jagar. Narrative analysis, particularly dialogical narrative analysis (DNA), is utilised with a focus on Goril jagar to understand material effects on the listener.

An interview with Pritam Bhartwan explores the framing and origins of the jagar, while semi-structured interviews gauge people’s responses to it. This methodology provides a comprehensive approach to examining the cultural product and its reception.