The Parched Grain Chant: Parallel Verse and Simultaneous Action in Magar Rituals

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Oppitz, Michael 

The faith healers of the Magar community are renowned for their elaborate ritual traditions. These combine chanting of numerous oral texts with the performance of nightlong séances. The chants may be divided into two classes: narrative mythological creation stories and auxiliary songs containing instructions for the correct choice of materials. Although the auxiliary chants lack a manifest plot, together with the narrative myths they form a single artistic whole.

One of these auxiliary chants is called the ‘Parched Grain Chant’. It deals with the primordial search for the right type of grain to be roasted in a particular vegetal offering rite. The craft of the chanting shaman is assessed by his ability to synchronise his song with the physical preparations needed for the corresponding actions. This presentation focuses on both the content and form of the song, and on its position within the entire ritual event.

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