25 September - The Dangerous Invisibility: Shamanism, Christianity and Natural Disasters among the Chepang of Nepal

Prof Dr Diana Rivoli

Associate Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Athens President ISARS (International Society for Academic Research on Shamanism)


Study of Religions Department,  Marginalised and Endangered Worldviews Study Centre (MEWSC), UCC

Wednesday 25th Sept 2019, 4-5pm
CACSSS Seminar Room, ORB G27, Ground Floor


In 2015 Nepal was hit by two devastating earthquakes which killed thousands of people. In the period following the earthquakes - because of politicians and elite’s rampant corruption and lack of transparency in managing economic aids coming from foreign countries - Christian NGOs and missions offering humanitarian aid and medical services became more and more insistent in demanding conversions, especially in remote areas and among disadvantaged communities.

Chepang pande (shaman/s) see in Christian proselytism and lack of respect toward Nature and Mother Earth (Bhūme) in particular, the real causes behind the earthquakes. In pandes’ narratives and world-view, the disconcerting invisibility of Jesus - a foreign god who shamans are unable to reach and see during spiritual journeys and/or dreams - is in contrast with local other-than-human-persons’ visibility and even tangible presence. Analogously pande affirm the power of direct verbal exchange, and therefore orality, versus the weakness of a written text (the Bible).

The paper aims to discuss the development of a ‘cosmic drama’ where Chepang pande assume a (cosmo)political role while Hindu and Chepang deities and spirits’ rage and sadness become more and more visible, tangible and audible, through ground shaking, landslides and consequent effects in terms of human, material and economic losses.

College of Arts, Celtic Studies & Social Sciences

Coláiste na nEalaíon, an Léinn Cheiltigh agus na nEolaíochtaí Sóisialta

College Office, Room G31 ,Ground Floor, Block B, O'Rahilly Building, UCC