About the author: Anthony Good holds the Chair of Social Anthropology in Practice at Edinburgh University. His research focuses on Hinduism, kinship, rural development, and political asylum issues involving South India and Sri Lanka. Previous books include Research Practices in the Study of Kinship (1984, with Alan Barnard) and The Female Bridegroom (1992).2004 0-7734-6397-6
The temple of the god Kalugacalamurtti – the local name for Murugan, Siva’s younger son – is the largest economic enterprise in the town of Kalugumalai, South India, yet ostentatious display and devotionalism loom far larger in the conduct of its affairs than economic rationality, despite attempts at bureaucratic rationalism by successive governments.
This book describes this Hindu temple’s complex patterns of public liturgy and private worship, and explores the metaphysical themes which underlie them according to the Saiva Sidhhanta philosophy governing temple worship. It shows how temple rituals portray and enact the sexuality, kinship, and regality of the gods. It then recounts how temple economy and administration have changed over the past two centuries, how groups and interests within Kalugumalai town challenged the temple’s hegemony over their affairs, and how and why the Rajas of Ettaiyapuram, the temple’s hereditary Trustees, successfully resisted repeated government attempts to assume control of the temple over the past 50 years.
There have relatively few previous ethnographic studies of large Hindu temples and no other fieldworker has access to such detailed information on the orthodox and ceremonial economies of any Hindu temple in South India. The result is a unique synthesis of ethnographic and historical material.