Translating Kali's Feast

The Goddess in Indo-Caribbean Ritual and Fiction


Translating Kali's Feast is an interdisciplinary study of the Goddess Kali bringing together ethnography and literature within the theoretical framework of translation studies. The idea for the book grew out of the experience and fieldwork of the authors, who lived with Indo-Caribbean devotees of the Hindu Goddess in Guyana. Using a variety of discursive forms including oral history and testimony, field notes, songs, stories, poems, literary essays, photographic illustrations, and personal and theoretical reflections, it explores the cultural, aesthetic and spiritual aspects of the Goddess in a diasporic and cross-cultural context. With reference to critical and cultural theorists including Walter Benjamin and Julia Kristeva, the possibilities offered by Kali (and other manifestations of the Goddess) as the site of translation are discussed in the works of such writers as Wilson Harris, V.S. Naipaul and R.K. Narayan. The book articulates perspectives on the experience of living through displacement and change while probing the processes of translation involved in literature and ethnography and postulating links between ‘rite' and ‘write,' Hindu ‘leela' and creole ‘play.'

The author wrote the description of the Big Puja (namely chapter 9, 10, 11, and 13) and the Guyana Kali Puja Lexicon (chapter 17) in collaboration with Guyanese scholar Karna Singh.

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"An excellent contribution to the series… the strength of the book lies in its documentation of a cross-cultural tradition and its detailed observations of practices of Kali worship…" – in: The Book Review 59 (January 2002)
"The book is very well researched and beautifully written. Its intermingling of the sacred and the secular, its pictorial presentation of the Kali’s feast and festivities at Blairmont temple […], and its snippets of chants and songs and poems, makes the reading of the book an experience of participating in the rituals of the puja itself." – in: Interdisciplinary Literary Studies: a journal of criticism and theory 4/1 (Fall 2002)
"Translating Kali’s Feast has opened out for the reader fresh and significant paths which can and will surely be further pursued." – in: The Translator 12/1 (2006)
List of Colour Plates (In the Footsteps of the Goddess...)
I Remembering and Forgetting
1 Kaly's Story
2 Madrasi Religion in Guyana
II Ritual Desire in Postcolonial Fiction
3 Crossing Dark Waters: Thinking Through the Gap
4 The Devouring Mother in Wilson Harris and V.S. Naipaul
5 Naipaul's Indian Darkness, Narayan's Stone Gayatri
6 Gardens, Groves and Other Places and Spaces in Narayan's Novels
7 Is Shakti Shanti?
8 Goddesses, Ghosts and Translatability in Jonestown
III The Feast and Festivities of Mother Kali
9 Prologue to the Feast
10 The Awakening of Mother
11 The Sacred Garden
12 Night Interlude
13 Feast and Festivity
14 Tribute
15 Return to Secular Life
16 Vision
17 Guyana Kali Puja Lexicon
IV Translating Culture
18 Translation, Ethnography and Literature
19 Translating Kali's Feast
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