Freitag, 29. April 2022, 15:15 - 16:45 iCal

Drumming and Dialogue

Summoning the Dead in Hindu South India

Seminarraum 1 des ISTB
Spitalgasse 2, Hof 2.7, 1090 Wien


Public Lecture by Dr. Amy L. Allocco | Elon University, USA


This lecture introduces the pampaikkarar, a class of priest-musicians who act as ritual specialists in non-brahminic, vernacular Tamil Hinduism and preside over ceremonies to persuade dead relatives to dance and speak through their living kin and to return home to reside as permanent household deities. These drummers oversee a range of ritual elements, including verbal and material ornamentation, communication via flames, and the summoning of the dead from water sources. Crucially, they also orchestrate the dialogues with the dead and a range of deities that are the centerpiece of these complex, multi-day ceremonies. Through their ritual expertise and musical virtuosity, this highly skilled class of drummers broadens our register of Hindu ritual authorities. These rituals and the pampaikkarar who orchestrate them emphasize central modes of Hindu engagement with the divine—modes not fully accounted for in scholarly literature on Hindu ritual or Hindu death practices. Where scholarly models have long privileged sight (darshan), the priest-musicians’ performances prompt us to consider the fundamental roles of decoration, flame, and water in Hindu ritual. Most important of all, their ritual work points to the crucial place of dialogue and speech acts, particularly in accessing deities and the dead.

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Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde


Judith Starecek
Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde in Kooperation mit der Indischen Botschaft, Wien
4277 43502