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Catholic and Tamil Divine Mothers:Art and Ritual in Tamil Shrines


· Patrizia Granziera Facultad De Artes -Universidad Autonoma Del Estado De Morelos (Cuernavaca-Morelos, Mexico)


07/27 | 16:10-16:30 UTC+2/CEST


Catholic and Tamil Divine Mothers: Art and Ritual in Tamil Shrines

Popular and classical traditions in India venerate the earth as the life-giving and life-nourishing mother. Hence the earth, its mountains, rivers and oceans are seen as our mother. Indian art personifies these forces of nature in the form of beautiful ladies such as the tree nymphs, Yaksis, or the river goddesses, Yamuna and Ganga. Even Durga was probably originally a goddess of the forest and vegetation. In rural Tamil Nadu the goddess is intimately connected to the soil and thus to concepts of both fertility and death. In almost all the founding myth of a Tamil goddess temple, the deity manifests its presence in the form of stone, a piece of wood or a statue buried in the ground or submerged in the water. Usually somebody cuts the log or the stone and blood gushes out proving the presence of the deity on that particular spot, often in a forest, near a tree or a body of water.

This paper will discuss the hagiographic account of Our Lady at Konankuppam and its artistic representation found in the shrine dedicated to her and built by the Jesuit friar Giuseppe Beschi in the 17th century. The story of “Perianayagi Amman” resonates with the Tamil tradition of a deity self-manifestation and the deep relationship between shrines and community in Tamil Nadu. Two similar Tamil legends will be considered, that of Senganzhuneeramman in Veerampattinam and the goddess of Taimangalam village. This comparative analysis will be based on the examination of texts , devotional images and other artistic material found at these three shrines.