Rituals and Mediating Space/s (An Eclectic Approach): An anecdotal (re)search for festivals in Kathmandu Valley (Multiplicity of ethnographic instances)
On May of 2018, I undertook a decision to continue my interest in working with festivals (त्योहार) and the plurality that comes through observing processual (tradition/s) occasions of religious nature. These encounters were obtained through my recent preliminary field (re)search in the valley of Kathmandu and the respect for theoretical discourses through its usage. This paper seeks to deal with the idea of the mediation of sacred spaces. What constitutes a space? Moreover, what makes space ‘sacred’? Additively, I seek to augment the point of anecdotal notes and field visits which made me introspect about my liminal status as a ‘Foreign’ Nepali.
‘Sacra or Sacred’ often seems to be interwoven and enmeshed with the every-day, In-order to penetrate the nuances of certain traditions and rituals one needs to be accepting of the dangers that it harbors with it. Additionally, through the use of pictures and ‘being present’ corporeally, I sought to participate in what one would call a deliberate attempt at ‘seeing worlds within a world’. The core of ethnographic research and discourses is grounded in participant observation which is corroborated through different methodologies and mediums of interaction. Ethnography makes us introspect about our presuppositions and about the knowledge that we come across. Borrowing from Alpa Shah’s notion of participant observation as a form of revolutionary praxis to contribute new forms of knowledge. My endeavor proposes to be one that follows an ‘interpretative’ means, one that postulates towards new ways of understanding the sacred and the knowledge co-occurring around it.
The act of indulging oneself in the act of observing, conceptualizing and more importantly ‘being- there’ then becomes a decisive element in writing any form of scholarship. Awareness of ethnographic complexities and orientation(s) becomes immense and often progresses at unexpected momentums which is dynamic albeit interactional, sensitive and culturally established. During moments of such reticence, one is often found posing and confronting certain questions that are tentative in terms of its ontology and structure where intellectual rationality deems to be rather microscopic. At the root of my anthropological curiosity, the methodologies that I inferred upon are more than theoretical constructs. My approach started as a passage inclusive of trial and error interwoven with aspects of empirical and experiential avenues that required imagined spaces and tangible occurring. Thus, my methodology has largely been on how I observe and what I observe supported by a preliminary understanding of festivals and procession in concomitance to the autochthonous Nepali’s of the valley.