Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgements

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pp. vii-x

This book would not be possible without the generous assistance and encouragement of many people. I must offer my most sincere thanks to Dr Gauri Krishnan, formerly of the Asian Civilizations Museum, and now of the National Heritage Board, Singapore, who made the initial...

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Introduction

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pp. xi-xxxii

My first experience of Thaipusam occurred on 24 January 1978. Encouraged by Indian contacts who suggested that the festival might be of some general interest, I rose at 4 a.m., and accompanied by my wife, Wendy, four visitors from Australia, and a young Tamil man who had agreed to act as our...

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1. Indians in Malaysia: The Social and Ethnic Context

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pp. 1-18

The large-scale migration of Indians to Malaya throughout the nineteenth century and the first few decades of the twentieth century led to the creation of a distinctively Malaysian Indian society. One of the most conspicuous features of this community is the sharp division between the minority...

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2. Tamil Traditions and South Indian Hinduism

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pp. 19-64

Most scholars would contend that Common Era India has contained two great and discrete hubs of civilization, each of which served the needs and reflected the aspirations of quite distinct peoples. Burton Stein has termed these hubs “Hindu Aryan India” (centred on the Gangetic Plains/Chambal...

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3. Colonialism, Colonial Knowledge and Hindu Reform Movements

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pp. 65-85

In the previous chapter we noted that most scholars accept that the developments throughout the period of the great dynasties of South India stamped Tamil Hinduism with characteristics which were to prove both formative and enduring. In order to understand the shape of...

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4. Hinduism in Malaysia: An Overview

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pp. 86-133

The waves of Indian migration which followed the British colonization of Malaya and which continued up until the eve of the Pacific War were accompanied by the re-establishment of Hinduism as a significant minority religion in Malaya.1 The transplantation and historical evolution of Malaya...

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5. Murugan: A Tamil Deity

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pp. 134-184

The deity Murugan has been closely identified with Tamil religiosity for at least two millennia. Descriptions of Murugan are contained within early Tamil literature, including the substantial corpus of Sangam poetry.1 In his landmark study, The Many Faces of Murukan — The History and Meaning of...

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6. The Phenomenology of Thaipusam at Batu Caves

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pp. 185-243

In the previous chapter we examined the mythology surrounding the deity Murugan — his creation, his spiritual maturation, his acquisition of the Vel, and his defeat of the asuric army headed by the demon Surapadman. It specifically noted his adaptation and emblematic role as a quintessentially...

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7. Other Thaipusams

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pp. 244-287

This chapter provides an overview of the commemoration of Thaipusam (or other Murugan-linked festivals) and the related incidence of kavadi worship in a variety of settings, within both metropolitan and diaspora Tamil Hindu societies. In the process it will comprehensively demonstrate that festivals...

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8. Thaipusam Considered: The Divine Crossing

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pp. 288-353

This chapter will explore the kavadi ritual at Thaipusam through the structures of the Tamil Hindu pilgrimage ritual. This will examine theoretical notions of pilgrimage and the implications for the individual participant. The chapter will also investigate how Hindu ritual performs...

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Conclusions

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pp. 354-364

In the Introduction I argued that many scholars who had written about Thaipusam in Malaysia had constructed interpretations of the festival and the associated forms of worship (especially the kavadi ritual) which suggested their own rationales for Thaipusam. It was contended that each...

Glossary

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pp. 365-368

Bibliography

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pp. 369-390

Index

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pp. 391-400

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About the Author

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p. 401

Carl Vadivella Belle obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree at the Australian National University, Canberra. Between 1976 and 1979 he served in the Australian High Commission, Kuala Lumpur. He has maintained a long-term interest in Malaysian social, political, religious and political...

Coloured plates

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