Studies of mountainous regions invariably tend to be contextualized as that of the highlands or mountain people in opposition to the other the lowlands or plains people. Breaking away from the trend, this volume examines the remarkable diversity of social, religious, and political institutions within the Himalayan region.
Though generally associated with orthodox Brahmanical tradition, the region is home to heterodox cults and non-conformist social practices. The contributors examine key issues of diversity in environment, marriage customs, gender relations, ethnicity, the status accorded to women, religious practices, dietary habits, and folk tradition in the Himalaya. They emphasize that while certain customs are broadly representative of a shared Himalayan culture, there is no single underlying rationality for the entire region.
The volume underlines how diverse religious and cult practices of the region created a society that embraced pluralism and nurtured a rich, vibrant folk tradition. It also illuminates the broad aspects in which Himalayan societies are markedly different from the adjacent lowlands of South Asia. This book will be of considerable interest to scholars and students of Himalayan studies, social anthropology, and sociology.