Baresahariya bhaona, a unique festival of Vaishnava theatrical performance, has been celebrated for more than two hundred years in the northeast Indian state of Assam. During the festival twenty-some plays are staged simultaneously under a uniquely designed roof in an acting area shaped like a lotus in bloom. The festival offers a veritable feast of spectacle, stylized acting, classical dance, and music, all imbued with a sense of spirituality. The performance is marked by a continuous shifting between the classical and the folk, the mundane and the spiritual, providing thousands of spectators a rare aesthetic experience. The festival offers an example of a rural community's adherence to simple faith and a desire to retain the best of their cultural-religious tradition, and their readiness to accommodate the inevitable changes in the difficult days of globalization and cultural homogenization.


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pp. 303-319
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