Chapter

The Goddess of Koṭuṅkaḷūr

Paul Younger

in Playing Host to Deity

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780195140446
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834907 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195140443.003.0004
 The Goddess of Koṭuṅkaḷūr

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The festival of Kotunkalur, the ancient capital of Kerala, engages the worshipers with the Goddess of that region described in the Cilappatikaram epic as Kannaki. This Goddess is understood as temperamental, and demands erotic pleasure and blood sacrifices from her devotees. The priests close the temple during the festival because the devotees’ insistence on physical contact with the deity violates the restrictions of the priestly system. The many velicapatu or sorcerers who come to the festival have the power of their ritual swords renewed by having them placed on a sacred spot in the home of the Nair family that manages the temple. On the final day, a member of the ancient kingly lineage arrives and negotiates with the priests and the Nairs on behalf of the worshipers, and it is agreed that the temple will be reopened.

Keywords: blood; Cilappatikaram; Goddess; Kannaki; Nairs; sacrifice; swords; temple; velicapatu

Chapter.  5265 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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