Siblings and Other Metaphors for Christian‐Hindu Relations

Corinne G. Dempsey

in Kerala Christian Sainthood

Published in print February 2001 | ISBN: 9780195130287
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834136 | DOI:
 Siblings and Other Metaphors for Christian‐Hindu Relations

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Argues how the metaphor of siblings used to associate village church patron saints and temple deities reflects ambivalent yet ultimately peaceful human relations between Hindus and Christians in present‐day Kerala. This chapter contrasts folktales of sacred sibling rivalries and resolutions as well as local church origin stories depicting communal tensions and interdependence with rhetoric emerging from official modes of religious and political expression. Official discourses, commonly promoting unambiguous ideologies of religious exclusivism or the complete negation of religious boundaries, challenge the more realistic portrayals of interreligious relations proposed by local traditions. Another layer of ambiguity woven into this chapter emerges through the performance of sacred sibling tales in which the Keralite storytellers commonly insist that the stories are “silly” or “untrue” in response to the author's eagerness to hear them.

Keywords: Christian–Hindu relations; Christians; communal tensions; folktales; Hindus; interreligious relations; Kerala; saints; siblings

Chapter.  18099 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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