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Playing Host to DeityFestival Religion in the South Indian Tradition$
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Paul Younger

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195140446

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195140443.001.0001

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The Goddess of Koṭuṅkaḷūr

The Goddess of Koṭuṅkaḷūr

A Festival of the Wild Goddess of Ancient Kerala

(p.41) 3 The Goddess of Koṭuṅkaḷūr
Playing Host to Deity

Paul Younger

Oxford University Press

The festival of Kotunkalur, the ancient capital of Kerala, engages the worshipers with the Goddess of that region described in the Cilappatikaram epic as Kannaki. This Goddess is understood as temperamental, and demands erotic pleasure and blood sacrifices from her devotees. The priests close the temple during the festival because the devotees’ insistence on physical contact with the deity violates the restrictions of the priestly system. The many velicapatu or sorcerers who come to the festival have the power of their ritual swords renewed by having them placed on a sacred spot in the home of the Nair family that manages the temple. On the final day, a member of the ancient kingly lineage arrives and negotiates with the priests and the Nairs on behalf of the worshipers, and it is agreed that the temple will be reopened.

Keywords:   blood, Cilappatikaram, Goddess, Kannaki, Nairs, sacrifice, swords, temple, velicapatu

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