Home    Number 4, 2023

Return of the Stolen God: The Sora Cult of Mattar Banom (an Ethnolinguistic Analysis)

[Vozvrashchenie ukradennogo boga: kul’t Mattar Banom u sora (etnolingvisticheskii analiz)]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541523040024


Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 10.04.2023

Accepted: 01.07.2023

About author(s)

Evgeniya Renkovskaya | http://orcid.org/0000-0003-1944-0746 | jennyrenk@gmail.com | Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences (1 bld. 1 Bolshoy Kislovsky Lane, Moscow, 125009, Russia)


Sora, Munda tribes, India, script, Sorang-Sompeng, Mattar Banom, god Jagannath, Tantrism, ethnolinguistics


The article describes the religion of Mattar Banom, the cult of the autochthonous script of the Sora language, created in the 1930s in the state of Odisha, India, at the same time as script itself. The newly invented script (Sorang-Sompeng) is considered to be the incarnation of the god Jagannath who, according to Hindu beliefs, was originally the god of the Savara tribe (supposed ancestors of the Sora) but then was taken away from them by the Oriya Brahmins. Each character of the script is dedicated to a certain deity of the traditional Sora pantheon. The article deals with the social prerequisites, conditions and goals of creating the cult, as well as the history of its development. I attempt to examine and reconstruct cult modification strategies through the ethnolinguistic analysis of the inscription on the iconographic image of the god- alphabet, religious texts, and cult terminologies. I argue that the cult was originally based on the tantric ideas common in Odisha, while the ideas of Jagannath and letters associated with deities appeared later in the course of the cult’s development.


Renkovskaya, Е.A. 2023. Vozvrashchenie ukradennogo boga: kul’t Mattar Banom u sora (etnolingvisticheskii analiz) [Return of the Stolen God: The Sora Cult of Mattar Banom (an Ethnolinguistic Analysis)]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 4: 23–40. https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541523040024 EDN: HIWAVI

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