Feeding a Thousand Souls: Women, Ritual, and Ecology in India- An Exploration of the Kolam

ISBN : 9780195170825

Vijaya Nagarajan
344 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Oct 2018
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Every day millions of Tamil women in southeast India wake up before dawn to create a kōlam, an ephemeral ritual design made with rice flour, on the thresholds of homes, businesses and temples. This thousand-year-old ritual welcomes and honors Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and alertness, and Bhudevi, the goddess of the earth. Created by hand with great skill, artistry, and mathematical precision, the kolam disappears in a few hours, borne away by passing footsteps and hungry insects.

This is the first comprehensive study of the kōlam in the English language. It examines its significance in historical, mathematical, ecological, anthropological, and literary contexts. The culmination of Vijaya Nagarajan's many years of research and writing on this exacting ritual practice, Feeding a Thousand Souls celebrates the experiences, thoughts, and voices of the Tamil women who keep this tradition alive.


Note on Diacritics and Transliterations
List of Figures
Chapter 1- Beginnings
Chapter 2- Following Lines of Beauty
Chapter 3- Rituals
Chapter 4- Thresholds
Chapter 5- Antal
Chapter 6- Designs
Chapter 7- Embodied Mathematics
Chapter 8- Competitions: From Village to City
Chapter 9- Embedded Ecologies and the Earth Goddess
Chapter 10- Marrying Trees and Global Warming
Chapter 11- Feeding a Thousand Souls: A Ritual of Generosity
Chapter 12- Endings $ https://global.oup.com/academic/product/9780195170825

About the author: 

Vijaya Nagarajan is an associate professor in the Department of Theology/Religious Studies and in the Program of Environmental Studies at the University of San Francisco and writes about Hinduism, gender, and ecology. She is active in the American Academy of Religion and in the environmental movements in the United States.

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