The Manaw Seittokpad congregation, an organization of Burmese exorcists
with headquarters in Bago, presents some unique features, such as a rigorous registration
procedure during the initiation process. Exorcism is linked to superhuman figures,
or weikza, at the center of a religious domain often characterized as a form of Buddhist
esotericism. Based on observation of rituals during this congregation’s annual conventions
in Bago, the initiation process is analyzed with reference to an anthropological
understanding of rites of passage and religious conversion. The article shows how
undergoing these rites induces healed patients to enter a specific community formed
by the members of the congregation. Furthermore, the acquisition of a new ‘truly’ Buddhist
identity is understood as a process equivalent to an ‘internal conversion’. Finally,
the contrastive use of ritualism is seen as a way to construct the practice of exorcism in
the weikza domain as a specific ‘path’ within the Burmese religious field.
If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.