Ritualizing on the Boundaries: Continuity and Innovation in the Tamil Diaspora

Front Cover
Univ of South Carolina Press, 2006 - Religion - 248 pages
In his comparative study of four Tamil resettlements, Clothey examines the rituals that have traveled with these South Indian communities - Hindu, Muslim, and Christian - and how these practices perpetuate or modify the heritages these groups claim for themselves in their new environs. Clothey looks specifically at settlements in the cities of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Singapore; Mumbai, India; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Describing such settlements as communities living on boundaries, Clothey explores how their existence illustrates divisions between ethnic, local, and global identities; between generations; and between imagined pasts and uncertain futures. He contends that one of the most visible ways expatriated communities negotiate these boundaries is through the use of ritual - the building of shrines and temples, the use of festivals and performances, and the enactment of ancient ceremonies.

What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Chera Dynasty was that of Villavar/Nadalvar Kings. The Cheras called themselves Villavar Kon and they were supported by Villavar subcastes such as Villavar, Malayar and Vanavar. Meenavars were the ancient subcastes of Tamil Villavar people.
The Chera Coins displayed Bow and Arrow insignia of Villavars and Palm Tree on the Obverse side. The Villavar people were involved in the cultivation and harvesting the Palm trees from time immemorial. On some Chera coins there was images resembling Pile of coconuts were seen on the reverse side.
Villavar insignia Palm Tree and Bow and Arrow were seen almost all the Chera Coins.
Sun, Moon, Flag Post and Elephants were inscribed too in the Chera coins.
Ummattur Chiefs, a branch of Kongu Cheras who ruled until 14th century even after the fall of Mahodayapuram Cheras issued many copper coins.
Some of the Ancient Chera Coins displayed Hill insignia of Malayar along with their official Bow and Arrow and Palm tree. Rarely Chera Coins displayed the Fish insignia of the Meenavar people.
Kerala meant Kera = Coconut + Alam = Field
All the Villavar kings The Cheras,Pandyas and Alupas Shared Kulasekhara title.
Kula meant lineage or Bunch of Coconuts. Sekharan meant collector.
Kulasekhara might mean the collector of Coconut Bunch.
Mahabharata called the Pandyan King Saranga Dhwaja (Bow flagged king). Malaya Dhwaja (Hill flagged) Pandya was also mentioned in Mahabharatha indicating the common Villavar ancestory of the Pandyas. The Vanavar or Vanathy Rayars of the Pandyan Kingdom are subcastes of Villavars too.
Kanjirappally Madurai Meenakshi Temple has an inscription of Maveli Vanathy Rayar a Pandyan feudatory of the Pandyan dynasty who ruled over parts of Kottayam and Ramnad (1250).
Eyinar (sharp shooters) were either a Villavar sub caste or Nagas joining the Villavar ranks giving them the title Enathy Rayar (Eyinan +Athy Rayar).
Meenavars were seagoing twin caste of Villavar people in the ancient times. Villavars mixed with Meenavars formed the aristocracy called Nadalvars who ruled over Pandyan country. Mara Nadar, Vanavar or Vanathy Rayar, Eyinar or Enathys were all considered Villavar clans. Some Villavarayars mixed with meenavars and adopted fishing.
Pandyan Chera and Chola countries were established by Villavar people much earlier than the arrival of Nagas two thousand years ago.
Kalithokai mentions about an ancient battle fought between the Dravidian Villavar and Meenavar Tamils against their enemies from the North the Nagas (1000BC).
Eventually many Naga tribes start migrating from their home north of Ganges to Central India and through Kalinga towards the Pandyan country.
The Meenavars got alienated from Villavar/Nadalvar people after the arrival of Nagas (Maravar Parathavar Oviar Aruvalar Eyinar) from north through Kalinga, during the Later Sangham age. Nagas further joined the Kalabhra or Kalavar people and became antagonistict to the Pandyas in 300 AD. However Pandyan dynasty was revived around 600 AD.
Kalabhra dynasty mixed with Mara (Nadars) were ousted from Pandyan country and started ruling from Chola country with its capitals at Uraiyur and Puhar (600-800 AD). Kalabhra(Muttarasa) Maran dynasty was considered as an offshoot of Pandyan Dynasty.
Kalabhras joined the Cholas against Pandyas (800 AD) leading to Chola dominance (800-1100 AD).
Pandyas in their war of succession invited Ezhavar under Srilanakan general Lankapura in 1170. Thus strengthened Pandyans ruled Kerala, Tamil

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Very important information


Boundaries and the Tamil Diaspora
The Construction of a Temple in an American City and the Acculturation
Shrines as Cultural Spaces in Singapore
Nadars in Gods Beloved Dharavi Mumbai
Brahmins and Their Three Shrines
Being a Tamil Muslim in a Mumbai Alley
Ritual Rules and Changing Circumstances
Nine Nights with the Goddess in Mumbai
Interpretations of Tai Pücam
Bhajans Saint Makers and the Reinterpretation
Selected Bibliography

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2006)

Fred W. Clothey is professor emeritus of religious studies, has taught at the University of Pittsburgh.

Bibliographic information