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Becoming Religious in a Secular Age$
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Mark Elmore

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520290532

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520290532.001.0001

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Cultivating Religion amid the Conflicting Desires of Goats, Gods, and Government

Cultivating Religion amid the Conflicting Desires of Goats, Gods, and Government

(p.212) Chapter Six Cultivating Religion amid the Conflicting Desires of Goats, Gods, and Government
Becoming Religious in a Secular Age

Mark Elmore

University of California Press

Early records show that animal sacrifice has long been a common compulsory component of local rites in the region of Himachal Pradesh. As recently as the early 1960s, there was virtually no debate about blood sacrifice as a contentious issue. However, following Himachal's attainment of statehood in 1971, animal sacrifice became the most critical debate for Himachalis struggling to define themselves, their relations with their pasts, and their relations with Indian national culture. Animal sacrifice developed into a problem through the emergence of a new category of religion, which determines what is allowed and what is prohibited. Because this category of religion is new in the region and the belief and practices that constitute it are so undefined, it is emotions, anxieties, and passions that animate the debate over animal sacrifice and the shaping of religion. The profound emotional shifts tied to religion are referred to as the labor of religion. The remainder of the chapter tracks religion's labor through a series of ethnographic vignettes.

Keywords:   animal sacrifice, Himachal Pradesh, Himachali religion, Himalayas, Indian culture, religion, blood sacrifice

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