A Bath for Dancing Śivaṉ In the Cold of Canada

Paul Younger

in Playing Host to Deity

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780195140446
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834907 | DOI:
 A Bath for Dancing Śivaṉ In the Cold of Canada

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A second wave in the Hindu diaspora occurred in the second half of the twentieth century when individual professionals and others settled in Europe and North America and began to build very elaborate temples. One of the most elaborate of these temples is the Ganesh Temple of Toronto, which was built on a model laid out by the Sankaracarya of Kancipuram with separate shrines for different Vaisnava and Saiva deities within one building. The temple management has tried to emulate exactly the Indian celebration of the Vision of Grace festival for Sivan Natarajan in the month of Markali. The celebration is an elegant bath or abhiseka and includes an otuvar singer adopting the persona of the saint Manikkavacakar so that he can sing the hymns to Sivan Natarajan. While in India the tuvar singers are boys who learn from childhood and virtually all come from one caste, in Sri Lanka, where most of the Canadian worshipers are from, women are often the best‐trained singers. In the end, the Toronto festival was a compromise with an elderly male tuvar perfoming the ritual and a Sri Lankan lady doing most of the singing.

Keywords: Manikkavacakar; Markali; otuvar singer; Sankaracarya of Kancipuram; separate shrines; Sivan Natarajan; Sri Lanka; temple management; vision of grace

Chapter.  4567 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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