Invocations & Possession

Calling the Goddess, channeling Her fire. The goddess is invoked with incense, fire, shamanic prayers, incantations, and drum & cymbal music. Her arrival is signaled by uncontrollable trembling in shamans and/or players and is sometimes called the Shakti shakes. The shamans use the peacock scepters to distribute the energy in blessings or exorcisms; and possessed individuals use the chains to calm down themselves down so Her energy does not sweep them away.

There are three levels of invocation, one at the beginning of the Gavari season at the time of the Rakhi full moon when the village’s chief Bhopa shamans will appeal to the Shakti/Gauri/Gavari goddess for permission to perform the 40-day ritual that year.

Once She agrees to sanction a village and accompany its troupe on the road, each day’s ritual also always must start with a collective invocation in the shaman circle around their altar until Her presence and blessings are felt. Once Her presence is sensed in the circle, it becomes a sanctified space that powers the performances and where imploring villagers come to pray.

Finally, many of the players will also call forth their own character’s spirit to guide them through their songs and dances and parts they play. Since there are no Gavari scripts or schools, these muse invocations can lead to fresh improvised material arising and different villages will develop very different versions of the same legacy plays.

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