The annual festivals that are central to the south Indian religious tradition are among the largest religious gatherings found anywhere in the world. Most are located at Hindu temples, but some are at Buddhist, Christian, or Islamic centers, and many involve people or symbols from more than one religious tradition. To an outside observer, the many activities of a festival may seem somewhat chaotic, but the participants see the activities as the ritual focus of a distinct religious experience, and frequently testify that it is in the activity of a festival that they find their most profound sense of religious meaning. In spite of their obvious importance in the lives of participants, these festivals have received scant scholarly attention. In this book, Paul Younger offers a fieldwork-based study of fourteen different religious festivals, shedding light on not only their religious, but also their social and political meanings.

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