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Playing God

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Playing God

Belief and Ritual in the Muttappan Cult of North Malabar



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Playing God by Theodore Gabriel
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This book discusses the genre of rituals known as the Teyyam extent in the North Malabar region of Kerala State, India. In this elaborately costumed ritual practitioners known as kolakkar, invoke the spirit of a deity into themselves which according to the devotees constitute a splendid theophany in which when the ritual process is over the devotees are able to talk to the god and invoke his/her blessings and predictions of their future. This book concentrates on the cult of the Muttappan duo of gods, the most popular among the Teyyams of North Malabar. The Muttappan cult, though originating from worship of a forest god by tribal groups and untouchables of the hill districts of North Malabar, is now widely popular, not only in Kerala but even outside the state, attracting worshippers from all castes and regions of South India. The book contains an analysis of the mythology and ritual praxis of the Muttappan cult and in addition an examination of the attempts to integrate the cult into a wider Hinduism by enunciating of a new hermeneutic of the legend and rituals based on the Hindu Advaitic tradition. The book also discusses how the Teyyam ritual contrasts significantly with rituals and worship in Brahminical Hinduism. The popularity of the cult is a reflection of the changing relationships between castes in Kerala, involving a closer symbiosis and reflecting the urge by the untouchable groups of Kerala to gain a higher standing and acceptance in Keralan Hindu society. The rituals are rich in theological significance and symbolism, and have links to the performing arts of Kerala such as Kathakali and Ottam Tullal.

Author Biography

education in Kerala and graduated from the Madras Christian College. After obtaining a postgradute degree in Sociology and Anthropology at Shivaji University, Maharashtra he did research work at the University of Aberdeen leading to his MLitt and PhD degrees in Comparative Religion. He is the author of several journal articles and chapters in books, the author of Lakshadweep, History, Religion and Society (New Delhi, Books and Books, 1989), Hindu-Muslim Relations in North Malabar 1498-1947 (E. Mellen Press, 1996), Hindu and Muslim Inter-Religious Relations in Malaysia (E. Mellen Press, 2000) and the co-editor of Mysticisms, East and West: Studies in Mystical Experience (Paternoster Press, 2003). His research interests are in Islam in South and south East Asia, Hinduism in South India, Inter-Faith Relations and Tribal Religions.
Release date Australia
November 30th, 2010
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
2 illustrations
Equinox Publishing Ltd
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