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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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Singing the Tamiḻ Hymnbook

Singing the Tamiḻ Hymnbook

The Adhyayanōtsava Festival in Śrīraṅkam

(p.80) 7 Singing the Tamiḻ Hymnbook
Playing Host to Deity

Paul Younger

Oxford University Press

The Adhyayantsava festival in the complex Srirankam temple is an old festival tradition now largely given over to the ritualized recitation of the 4,000 hymns in the Srivaisnava tradition. Because these hymns were composed by the alvars (saints) and interpreted by the acaryas (teachers), the images of these figures are included in the recitation along with the Brahmans who recite the hymns today. Each day after the requisite number of hymns is recited, the images and Brahmans are thanked with “temple honors” and a food distribution. The Brahmans who do these recitations are of the Tenkalai branch of the Srivaisnava community, and the Temple Chronicle, which their branch of the community maintains, insist that they were authorized to do this recitation by the legendary acarya Ramanuja. In the end, the huge crowds of the festivals are those that come to celebrate the conversion of the alvar Tirumankai and the absorption into divinity of the alvar Nammalvr.

Keywords:   acaryas, teachers, alvars, saints, 4,000 hymns, Nammalvar, Ramanuja, Srivaisnava, Temple Chronicle, temple honors, Tenkalai, Tirumankai

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