Drumming and dancing in Mahābhārata performances of the Himalayas

possession as transitional states

Andrew Alter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article considers the nexus that exists between drumming, dancing, and possession within the Pāndavalīlā, and draws on the work of Judith Becker (2004) to interpret the performance of possession as a theatre of transition. Most notably, while drumming effectively inspires possessed states, these are of different kinds and different orders. Performances like those of the Pāndavalīlā rely not only on altered states of consciousness in some form, but also on the performance of those altered states of being. Consequently, a broader focus on the transitional stages of possession as outlined through drumming admits a wider acknowledgement of the different forms and purposes of possession. Critically, drum patterns offer a metaphor for understanding the numerous levels of transition that operate within a Pāndavalīlā.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-185
Number of pages17
JournalYearbook for Traditional Music
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Drumming and dancing in <i>Mahābhārata</i> performances of the Himalayas: possession as transitional states'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this