Chapter

Dance and Trance in a New World

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/10.1093/0195140443.003.0013
 Dance and Trance in a New World

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The most thorough recreation of the South Indian tradition of worship anywhere in the diaspora took place in Guyana when large numbers of indentured laborers were taken there in the middle of the nineteenth century. The temple compounds they established in each village are called the ”Madrasi temples” in local parlance, and they are all the same with Mariyamman in the center surrounded by five to ten subsidiary deities. The pujaris (priests) regularly go into trance and perform exorcisms, and in preparing for their trance, they carry on the ancient practice of animal sacrifice and also follow a unique local practice of being whipped with a 12‐foot rope. The festival in this case is limited to three days, with the Goddess arriving and possessing the pujaris and their assistants the first night, the whole troop visiting every house in the village the second night, and the whole village returning to the temple for exorcisms on the last night.

Keywords: animal sacrifice; diaspora; exorcism; Goddess; indentured laborers; Madrasi temples; Mariyamman; pujaris; priests

Chapter.  4845 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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