Mona Schrempf, "From Popular Pilgrimage Festival to State Monastic Performance – The Politics of Cultural Production at Gomphu Kora, East Bhutan", in: Ute Luig (Ed.), Approaching the Sacred. Pilgrimage in historical and intercultural perspective, Berlin: Edition Topoi, 2018, 323–359


Over the past two decades, the Buddhist pilgrimage site of Gomphu Kora was transformed into a key travel destination in east Bhutan. The annual folk festival there was famous for attracting different ethno-linguistic groups from Bhutan’s far eastern borderland with India. Pilgrims and traders from both sides of the border and local inhabitants were actively involved in social, economic and cultural exchanges including folk song and dance performances. This chapter examines recent developments in cultural production at Gomphu Kora, and how an invention of tradition through state tourism orchestrated by the local monastic and lay administration emerged. It looks at how the former folk religious festival was converted into a generic state monastic event that has lost much of its original popular character.

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