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South Asia is one of the richest areas with regard to its festivals. We find an immense variety of performance traditions: theater, plays, recitations and enactments of oral epics, ritual performances, healing or shamanistic rituals, games and sportive competitions, performances of itinerant or sedentary musicians and religious specialists, pilgrimages, and much more. In many cases, these festivals, their agents and participants are “on the move” – they are changing, but they are also literally on the move and since long also took roots beyond South Asia. They developed specific forms, in constant creative exchange with their setting in the new homelands, but also in continuous reference to what is imagined as “original” South Asian tradition. These festival traditions, along with their material cultures, clearly are of major importance for creating and sustaining individual and group identity. This holds especially true in situations of rapid changes, caused for example by situations of crisis, such as war, ecological crisis, economic change, rapid globalization and modernization. With dramatic changes taking place in South Asia and beyond, some festivals will disappear or already have vanished; others undergo radical transformations; some traditions manage to preserve their practices within a new and very different social setting; and new festivals come into being.
The miscellany edited by Ute Hüsken and Axel Michaels traces these radical changes in South Asian festival traditions within the context of voluntary or enforced mobility of the performing agents and their traditions. Especially this aspect of mobility – of ideas, of people and their actions – and its consequences is a central concern of the volume.