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Feeding a Thousand SoulsWomen, Ritual, and Ecology in India- An Exploration of the Kolam$
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Vijaya Nagarajan

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780195170825

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195170825.001.0001

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Feeding a Thousand Souls

Feeding a Thousand Souls

A Ritual of Generosity

(p.243) 11 Feeding a Thousand Souls
Feeding a Thousand Souls

Vijaya Nagarajan

Oxford University Press

The Hindu notion of “feeding a thousand souls” each day as a ritual duty is central to the creation of the kōlam. This chapter traces this idea of “feeding a thousand souls” to ancient Sanskrit literature, Manu’s Code of Law, and the Mahabharata. There are five sacrifices or offerings that a householder should perform daily to alleviate the karmic debt of daily living: feed the animals, give food away until there is none left, feed the ancestors, feed the gods and goddesses, and offer hospitality to unexpected guests. In recent times, the material used to make the kōlam has changed from edible rice flour to inedible stone flour and acrylic stick-ons. This chapter explores the consequences of this change.

Keywords:   kōlam, women, India, Tamil Nadu, Hinduism, generosity, ritual, dharma, Krishna, Laws of Manu

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