Mistreated Vasanta: Comical Degradation of Ritual in the Hāsyārṇavaprahasana
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The Hāsyārṇava of Jagadīśvara (14th century CE), because of its crude and, sometimes, vulgar tones, is one of the least studied prahasanas. The work depicts the celebration of the Spring Festival, Vasantotsava, with particular features which have few parallels in Sanskrit literature. The sacred meaning of the festivity in itself, which showed connections with the cult of Kāma and in this way centred on the themes of birth and regeneration, is mocked through comical devices. These themes contribute to outline a frame characterized by vulgar and degraded sexual elements. Despite its farcical and grotesque atmosphere, this comical piece undoubtedly underlines deep connections existing between a ritualistic act (understood here as the undertaking of the rite in the prahasana itself) and performative theatre in general.
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