Representation of Folk Tantra: An enquiry into the Rati Khowa Sect in Assam

In recent times, the category of folk Tantra has evolved in the study of the Tantric tradition. The category as initiated by June McDaniel in her work is applied for the case study of the Bengal region in India. The new category marks a sharp distinction from the classical Tantra. The study attempts to explore the category further and expand it into the area of Assam in India. The Rati Khowa sect grew after the schism in the popular Vaishnavite movement in Assam. The sect is of esoteric nature which displays the amalgamation of Vaishnavite and Tantric elements. It could be seen in a few districts of Assam. The rituals practised by the sect comes under the left- hand path of Tantra and thus are not approved by the societal norms. Rituals are open only to the participants practised in secret and excluding the outsiders completely. The study will attempt to view the Rati Khowa sect as a folk tantric category. In the process, it will also examine that the category of folk Tantra in Assam is dissimilar to the category of folk Tantra in Bengal as viewed by June McDaniel.