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Title: Death to Deification: Reading the Many Tales of Goddess Tusu
Authors: Bhattacharji, Shreya
Kuiry, Hare Krishna
Keywords: Tusu
lok katha
Issue Date: Feb-2021
Publisher: Vidyasagar University
Abstract: The month long Tusu festival begins on Agrahayan Sankranti, the last day of Agrahayan Mas and ends on Poush or Makar Sankranti, the last day of Poush Mas, the eighth and ninth months of the Bengali solar calendar. According to the English calendar, the festival begins in mid-December and continues till mid-January. Goddess Tusu seems to have originated as a fertility/harvest deity of certain tribal communities, namely the Santhal, the Munda, the Kharia and the Ho. The festival is celebrated with great gusto in Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha and Assam. However, the Goddess seems to have been gradually appropriated by the Hindu Kudmi agricultural community and today the Tusu festival is mainly celebrated by this community. Even in contemporary times, Tusu is offered the first harvest crop and her blessings are sought for the forthcoming planting season. However, there seems to be a vast gap between the traditional rituals associated with the Harvest Goddess and the many tales surrounding her. This article explores fourteen lok kathas or community stories, (collected from English, Hindi and Bengali sources) surrounding the Goddess Tusu in an attempt to unravel a trajectory of deeply patriarchal, socio-cultural hegemonic constructs supporting both the deification of Tusu and her subsequent inclusion in the Hindu pantheon. These lok kathas revolve around a strangely passive woman and her death, whether voluntary or coerced, seems to be the only prerequisite for her deification and resultant worship. In the unexpectedly grim narrative world of the Tusu lok kathas, the living woman/Tusu seems not only dispensable but also easily replaceable in the form of her own idol/Goddess Tusu.
ISSN: 09733671
Appears in Collections:Journal of the Department of English - Vol 14 [2021]

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