Jessica Vantine Birkenholtz
- New Faculty Fellow
- Rutgers University-New Brunswick
The Svasthani Vrata Katha Tradition: Translating Self, Place, and Identity in Hindu Nepal
The Svasthani Vrata Katha (SVK) is a popular Hindu text that appears to be a quintessential embodiment of the ideology, ritual, and practice of classical Indian Hinduism—yet it is indigenous to and current among only the Hindus of Nepal. This project presents a textual-historical study of the SVK. A close reading of its unbroken historical and narrative development from the sixteenth century through the present day reveals the complex heritage of this key but understudied textual tradition and illuminates the reasons for and conditions under which the Svasthani has remained so central to Nepali religious identity during the text's unbroken history over the last five centuries. An ethnographic element complements this textual study, addressing contemporary understandings and practices of this living tradition. The question become how does the SVK inform our understanding of what it means to be a Nepali who is Hindu, and a Hindu who is Nepali?
PhD, South Asian Languages & Civilizations, University of Chicago appointed in Religion at Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Dissertation: "The Svasthani Vrata Katha (SVK) Tradition: Translating Self, Place, and Identity in Hindu Nepal"