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Two Nalanda University Students Receive Sahapedia-UNESCO Fellowships

Two Nalanda University Students, Annalisa Mansukhani and Aditya Chaturvedi, have recently received Sahapedia-UNESCO Fellowships this year. 

Annalisa Mansukhani,

Annalisa Mansukhani, a second-year Master's student at the School of Historical Studies, received the Sahapedia-UNESCO Fellowship this year. The Sahapedia - UNESCO Fellowships are a part of the efforts to raise -- at local, national, and international levels -- awareness of the importance of intangible heritage, and accessibility of the same to communities, groups and individuals. As a Project Fellow, she documented religion and religious thought in Rajgir as a way of studying the coexistence of these knowledge systems with contemporary influences of political ideology, development and the nation state. Her project contextualized these religious spaces in memory, myth and oral traditions as well, locating the contemporaneity of these beliefs and practices in the ‘living archive’ of Rajgir. “The realization of this project entailed a visualization of Rajgir’s religious diversity through text and image, looking at the multiple possibilities of engaging with its continued historical relevance as a site of pilgrimage and a tourist destination”, she said upon receiving the Fellowship.

Aditya Chaturvedi finished his B.A (Honours) in History from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University, India and has won several academic awards. He is currently pursuing an M.A at the School of Historical Studies at Nālandā University, Rajgir, India. He works on religious and spiritual traditions of South Asia and specializes in Bhakti and Tantric texts and practices. He is a trained Hindustani Classical vocalist and also plays tabla. Aditya is currently studying the practices associated with the Rāmakathā tradition(s) of north India.

He received the Sahapedia-UNESCO Project Fellowship this year for his research project ‘The Sādhanā of Rāmkathā in Bihar’ which aims at understanding and documenting the Rāmkathā traditions of Bihar. In this project Aditya presents the case of Rāmkathā as ‘sādhanā’ or spiritual discipline as practiced in the modern Indian state of Bihar. Bhojpur, Magadh and Mithila regions of the state form an intrinsic part of the Rām Yātrā network. The kathā has become integral to the people in the region to the extent that they define their ‘selves’ through it. Folk songs including caitis, kajaris and phāgs in Bhojpur; and life cycle songs like soharā (sung at birth of a child) and bannās (wedding songs) in Magadh and Mithila are full of references to the kathā. Rāmlilās are annual affairs in most of the villages of the region. Madhubani paintings also depict vignettes from the kathā. “By documenting these varied media of expression of the kathā, I shall strive to contribute to the existing archive on the Rāmāyana tradition. The project will also help us enhance understanding of the sacred geography of the region along the lines of Rāmāyaṇa”, he said explaining his project.

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