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Accueil > Publications > Dernières publications

Article by Gérard Toffin (CEH)

published in Studies in Nepali History and Society (SINHAS)
ISSN : 1025-5109
Volume 24, issue 2
December 2019 (Pus 2076 v.s.)

A Ritual Drama in Nepal : the White Kālī Goddess Tantric Temple of Kathmandu and Its Gaṇa pyākhã Divine Dance, pages 281–321
Gérard Toffin


The gaṇa pyākhã (or dyaḥ pyākhã) ritual dramas that are staged in the Kathmandu Valley on various dates of the lunar calendar, belong to a rich local theatrical tradition and are the most religious of Newar masked dances. The purpose of this article is to explore this cultural heritage through the study of a specific religious drama performed every year and, at least theoretically, every twelve years by the White Kālī (Śvetkālī) choreographic troupe of Naradevī temple, a key Tāntric temple in Kathmandu. I shed light on the social organization of this dance, its Buddhist-Hindu hybridity, its ritual Tāntric aspects and the divine characters incarnated during the performance. Interestingly, the story enacted on stage narrates the transgressive love of the goddess Kumārī for a demon. Furthermore, this paper emphasizes the aesthetical and spectacular dimension of these representations. Despite the radical changes Nepal has undergone over the last five decades, these Tantric temples and religious ballets still thrive. They deserve to be studied in the most detailed manner possible.

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