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Serpent Mother is about devotion to the Goddess of Snakes and the importance of divine female power in West Bengal Indian life. The film's focus is the Jhapan Festival, the great celebration of snakes. Shown are festival preparations, the role of traditional arts and crafts in the worship of the Goddess, devotional singing, and an exposition of ritual action. The difficult and complex symbolism of the ritual is explained by the participants themselves. In addition to the commentary, this makes accessible what is, at first glance, exotic and inexplicable behavior.
This film belongs to the Pleasing God series of films about how Hindus worship. These films are studies of the devotional practicies associated with three major deities of the Hindu pantheon. They were made in the small, historic town of Vishnupur, West Bengal - a town of temples, crafts and markets, the center of an old kingdom, and a place where daily life and worship are closely intertwined.
An incredibly in-depth study of Vishnapur by Ákos Östör and Lina Fruzetti can be found at the Wesleyan Learning Objects website. The material directly relating to this film is contained within the Sacred Ritual section under Earth Deities.
Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Sinking Creek Film Festival Prize, 1985