By Selva J. Raj, William P. Harman

Explores the perform of taking ritual vows in South Asia, a lay culture commonplace within the region’s religions.

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Additional info for Dealing With Deities: The Ritual Vow in South Asia

Sample text

Doing responsible research would require that I enter and investigate; doing what I felt like doing meant avoiding the place like . . the plague. Vows to Mariyamman With very few exceptions, people with whom I spoke arrived at Samayapuram because they understood themselves to be under the requirements of a vow. 1 My perspective is both more diffuse and more specific. Here I am concerned with vows taken both by men and women, but they are vows taken in the context of worship of one particular goddess in one particular temple.

The vast majority of vows are taken and performed by men and women and some are physically quite demanding: carrying firepots, long periods of fasting, disciplined periods of prayer and temple visits, body rolling, to name a few. Crucial to my understanding the vow in the context of the worship of Samayapuram Mariyamman is its specificity and its dialogical quality. Both parties (the devotee and the supernatural power addressed) have an interest in profiting from the transaction, though almost always these transactions are salubrious for the devotee: he, or she, will always end up better off from the successfully completed transaction.

Vahini,4 you’re making a lot of bhakris,” he said. ” Hardly had Pandu gotten the words out than the rooster crowed loudly and began to cackle in fright. Hearing the crowing, Pandu said, “Well, Tatya, so there is a chicken for your fair. ” Tatya answered and left hurriedly for the store in town. By then Sarji had finished everything. She sprinkled water on the stove and leaned the griddle against it. She took a dhoti 20 Shankarrao Kharat (Translated by Maxine Berntsen) and started tying up the food, putting the stack of bhakris at one end and the offering at the other.

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