Selva J. Raj


The ritual life of Tamil Catholics in south India defies tidy, conventional categories like assimilation, differentiation, and othering, since the complex negotiations characteristic of this lived tradition often involve both assimilation and differentiation. This dynamic reflects/reveals their hybrid and liminal cultural and religious condition where boundaries are not fixed or absolute, but constantly fluid, permeable, and negotiable. While this pattern is manifest almost in all spheres of Tamil Catholic life and practice, in this paper I focus on how lay Catholics configure and maintain their "tamilness" in the realms of devotional music, caste discourse, and public devotional rituals with relevant anecdotal accounts and illustrations drawn from personal experience as well as field research, and reflect on the "both/and" dynamic characteristic of Tamil Catholic life and practice.

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