RITUAL AS IDEOLOGY:
TEXT AND CONTEXT IN TEYYAM
CHANDRAN T. V.
2005, xx+133pp., one map, 54 coloured
photos, bibl., index. ISBN: 81-246-0275-1, Rs. 650 (HB)
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out and superceded by the ideological laundering of caste Hinduism.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
microstructual 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
athoritarianism 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.