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The Law of PossessionRitual, Healing, and the Secular State$
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William S. Sax and Helene Basu

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190275747

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190275747.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 08 December 2021

Possession and the Antisuperstition Law in Maharashtra

Possession and the Antisuperstition Law in Maharashtra

An Actors’ Perspective on Modernization and Disenchantment

(p.138) 6 Possession and the Antisuperstition Law in Maharashtra
The Law of Possession

Johannes Quack

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes and analyzes how activists of the Indian rationalist movement promote a strict separation between medical, legal, and religious social spheres, and try to “modernize” India by fostering processes of secularization, rationalization, and disenchantment. On the one hand, it focuses on educational programs conducted by rationalist activists with the help of “science vans,” featuring strong criticism of “traditional” healing practices, especially those that feature states of “possession” and often cut across the division of health, justice, and religion. On the other hand, it introduces the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act 2013, previously known as the “antisuperstition bill” or “anti–black magic bill.” It argues that this bill can be seen as part of much larger attempts of legitimating a “rationalized” form of Hinduism and of delegitimating popular Hindu practices as “superstition.”

Keywords:   possession, religion, traditional healing, modernization, disenchantment, secularization, rationalism, high Hinduism, superstition, Anti Superstition Bill

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