Sacrificial Deaths in a Tamil Folk Epic [virtual]

Brenda E.F. Beck (University of Toronto, retired)

This paper will summarize a variety of mythical and social themes relating to blood sacrifice found woven into a medieval Tamil, oral folk epic. Some of this symbolism references the ancient Vedic myth of world creation from subdividing a giant cosmic body. Other aspects of the story demonstrate that the resulting four varna categories derived from sacrifice get side-stepped and repackaged. These shifts reveal much about a farmer plus Dalit underclass perspective on a social system that places a minimal value on their lives, demonstrating the ways in which folk bards creatively rework the paradigms others use to define them.

Part of 04-03 Oral Traditions of the Indian Subcontinent: Orality as Means of Recentering the Margins [hybrid], Friday, October 14, 8:00 am–10:00 am