This introductory chapter begins with brief discussions of the origins of Christianity in Kerala and the pluralism in Kerala society. It describes the ‘private’ world of Christianity in Kerala related to its ethic and world-view, its ritual and ecclesiastical life, with the norms of endogamy determining the level of contact and intimacy between individuals; and its ‘public’ life related to its political affiliation to Hindu kings, its acquiescence to Hindu norms of purity and pollution, its own status and rank consciousness, and its adherence to customs linked with food, language, and culture. The chapter then considers the position of Syrian Christians within the Hindu caste system. This is followed by discussions of the categories of time, space, and the body articulated in social use, which represent the ‘world’ held in common by the Christians and Hindus of Kerala.
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