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Processions and chariot festivals in Tharamgampadi and Velankanni

Hindu festival in Tharangampadi. Photo: Peter Andersen, 2007. National Museum of Denmark
Hindu festival in Tharangampadi. Photo: Peter Andersen, 2007. National Museum of Denmark

The article addresses south Indian festivals on the basis of fieldwork in Tharangampadi and Velankanni. In south India festivals and chariot festivals have been common since medieval times. Even if there is some agreement that ritual expressions in chariot festivals in India have developed with interaction between the different religions, they have recently been seen as expressions of the strength of the religious communities rather than as instances of collaboration, due to the present conflicts among different religious communities. This article argues for a more even approach, where it will identify instances of cultural encounters among the different religious communities as they may be identified in the celebration of the various south Indian festivals. The article also considers how far the festivals are manifestations of separate religious communities and the ways in which they are manifestations of collaboration among them. The article at the outset considers observations of recent chariot festivals in Tharangampadi, where Hindus and Muslims celebrate related chariot festivals for Renuka Devi and the Pirs of the local Darga respectively. Besides these celebrations, the chariot (palanquin) festival celebrated for the Holy Mother of Good Health of Velankanni is included.

Andersen, Peter B. (2014). “Processions and Chariot Festivals: Cultural Markings in Tharamgampadi and Veilankanni”, in Esther Fihl and A. R. Venkatachalapathy (eds.), Beyond Tranquebar: Grappling across Cultural Borders in South India. Orient Blackswan.