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Community and worldview among Paraiyars of South India: 'Lived' religion

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

Published

Publication date6/12/2012
Place of publicationLondon
PublisherContinuum
Number of pages208
ISBN (Print)9781441178817
Original languageEnglish

Publication series

NameBloomsbury Advances in Religious Studies
PublisherContinuum

Abstract

This volume presents a detailed ethnographic study of rural Paraiyar communities in South India, focusing on their religious and cultural identity. Formerly known as Dalits, or Untouchables, these are a largely socially marginalised group living within a dynamic and complex social matrix dominated by the caste system and its social and religious implications in India. Through examining Paraiyar Christian communities, the author provides a comprehensive understanding of the Paraiyar religious worldview within the dominant Hindu religious worldview. In contrast to existing research, this volume places Paraiyars within their wider social context, ascribed and achieved identity, religious symbolism, ritual and negotiation of social boundaries. In arguing that Paraiyars express their beliefs through lived religion, the author moves the concept of ‘religion’ from the reified forms it so often holds in academia. Instead, Jeremiah demonstrates that it is within local and specific contexts, as opposed to essentialised notions, in which ‘religion’ either makes sense or that theories concerning it can be tested.