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The 'Holy Family' of Shiva in a south Indian temple

Fuller, C. J. (1995) The 'Holy Family' of Shiva in a south Indian temple. Social Anthropology, 3 (3). pp. 205-217. ISSN 1469-8676

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In the myths and rituals of south Indian Hindu temples dedicated to the great god Shiva and his consort Devi, the goddess, the marital relationship between them is a central theme. In many temples, too, the wedding of the god and goddess is a highlight of the annual festival cycle, and nowhere is this more evident than in the city of Madurai in Tamilnadu, whose Great Temple is dedicated to the goddess Minakshi and her husband Sundareshwara, a form of Shiva. In the Minakshi temple (as it is popularly called), the climax of its principal annual festival - the Chittirai festival - is the celebration of the divine couple's wedding. This festival is also renowned because it unfolds alongside another Chittirai festival celebrated for Kallalagar, a form of the great god Vishnu, who is said to be Minakshi's brother in accordance with the popular Tamil notion that Shiva and Vishnu are brothers-in-law linked by the goddess. The 'double festival' of Chittirai is therefore a deservedly famous example of the centrality of marriage in south Indian temple Hinduism.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: Published 1995 © Cambridge University Press on behalf of the European Association of Social Anthropologists. LSE has developed LSE Research Online so that users may access research output of the School. Copyright © and Moral Rights for the papers on this site are retained by the individual authors and/or other copyright owners. Users may download and/or print one copy of any article(s) in LSE Research Online to facilitate their private study or for non-commercial research. You may not engage in further distribution of the material or use it for any profit-making activities or any commercial gain. You may freely distribute the URL ( of the LSE Research Online website.
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2005
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2024 18:57

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