The Silent Killer: The Ass as Personification of Illness in North Indian Folklore
Charming Beauties and Frightful Beasts - Non-Human Animals in South Asian Myth, Ritual and Folklore - Fabrizio M. Ferrari
Fabrizio M. Ferrari [+]
University of Chester
Fabrizio M. Ferrari was educated in Indology at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (Italy) and received his PhD from SOAS in 2005 for a study on religious folklore in West Bengal. He taught South Asian Religions and Religious Studies at SOAS and is now Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Chester. He is the author of Oltre il confine, dove la terra è rossa. Canti d’amore e d’estasi dei bāul del Bengala (Ariele, 2001) and of Guilty Males and Proud Females: Negotiating Genders in a Bengali Festival (Seagull, 2010). He wrote the first monograph in English on the Italian anthropologist and historian of religion Ernesto de Martino (Ernesto de Martino on Religion. The Crisis and the Presence, Equinox, 2012) and has edited the volume on Health and Religious Rituals in South Asia: Disease, Possession and Healing (Routledge, 2011). His research is mainly directed towards the study of religious folklore in the frame of Marxist anthropology. His forthcoming book is Religion, Devotion and Medicine in North India: The Healing Power of Śītalā (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2014).
In this chapter, the author argues that the ass is not just a mere mount but can be considered the embodiment of disease and misfortune, while Śītalā, rather than being a ‘disease goddess’, is a controller and a healer.