Pilgrims and ‘ritual seks’: Heterodox ritual practices in the context of the veneration of saints in Central Java

In Central Java, there are a number of pilgrimage sites that are visited by pilgrims of both sexes either to communicate with each other sexually or—for men—to have sexual contact with prostitutes. The pilgrims are confident that the sexual acts consummated on site can help them achieve the health, wealth and happiness they seek. Central to the legitimation of “ritual seks” are local legends that tell of exceptional couples whose love pilgrims re-enact in order to attain some of the spiritual power embodied in the sacralized lovers. This talk will discuss these rituals and the religious dynamics to which they paradigmatically refer.

Volker Gottowik is Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany. He edited Dynamics of Religion in Southeast Asia: Magic and Modernity (AUP 2014) and published widely on interethnic and interreligious relations in Java, Bali, and Lombok.

Look at the full poster of this event here.

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