Ritual as Ideology: Text and Context in Teyyam
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Short DescriptionsIt looks into specific cultural formation of Teyyam. It re-frames and interprets various myths of mother-goddesses and hero-deities by situating them in the historical conditions in which they originated and explores from a sociological perspective how the ritual functions as ideology.
Teyyam, the spectacular ritual dance widely performed in north Kerala, has its distinct forms of visual and verbal expression. However, what was once expressed through the distinctly indigenous forms of this religious “other” no longer remains the same, as the specificities of meaning and messages as encoded in the whole structure of its ritual performance were levelled out and superceded by the ideological laundering of caste Hinduism. RITUAL AS IDEOLOGY looks into the specific cultural formation of teyyam — it re-frames and interprets various myths of the mother-goddesses and hero-deities by situating them in the historical conditions in which they originated. Based on a study of the myths at a micro-structural level, the book explores from a sociological perspective how the ritual functions as ideology, apart from its cultic or religious significance. The study also unfolds and explains the gender disparity between the archetypal Female Devourer and her Male Victims, the recurrent motifs in the myths related to various manifestations of the Terrible Mother in teyyam. The study thus acquires contemporary significance in the face of cultural authoritarianism that in its design of appropriation attributes the village pantheon of every “little tradition” to canonical Hinduism, a process that has been so rife in today’s cultural politics.