By Corinne G. Dempsey
Kerala Christian Sainthood is an ethnography-based research that celebrates the multi-vocal functionality of saints. Drawing on pilgrim anecdotes, shrine practices, legitimate hagiographies, and neighborhood lore, writer Corinne Dempsey demonstrates how the enterprise of saints commonly extends past their ability as earthly conduits of remarkable strength. Saintly characters defined during this ebook, hailing from the religiously pluralistic south Indian kingdom of Kerala, have a tendency not just to the health and wellbeing and happiness of person devotees yet support craft and exhibit the a number of identities and intricate energy relatives in their devotional groups as well.
Throughout the research, Dempsey highlights the traditions of Sr. Alphonsa of Bharananganam (1910-1946) and St. George the martyr, figures who replicate the numerous preoccupations of Kerala sainthood. Sr. Alphonsa, local of Kerala and recognized for her lifetime of ache and posthumous strength, stands in line to be canonized via the Vatican. St. George, the caped dragon slayer imported to Kerala via Syrian retailers and later through Portuguese and British colonizers, is this present day in part debunked through Rome. those figures, whereas differing dramatically in temperament, nationality, age of cult, and Vatican status, boast an unlimited well known attraction in Kerala's Kottayam district. In interpreting Sr. Alphonsa and St. George, Dempsey indicates how Kerala's saint traditions mirror devotees' hybrid identities in either colonial and postcolonial times.
This ethnography of Christian sainthood inside a Hindu cultural context, of "foreign" traditions followed by means of local perform, and of girl sanctity negotiated via patriarchal expectation is poised at a few intersections. Dempsey presents not just a comparative learn of cultures, religions, and worldviews, but additionally a distinct grounding for modern ethnographic, post-colonial, and feminist concerns.
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Additional info for Kerala Christian Sainthood: Collisions of Culture and Worldview in South India
The chapter concludes by arguing for and providing some speculation about the resilience of these instances of materially accessible sacred ambivalence—a resilience that effectively ignores authoritatively prescribed disembodied and dichotomized powers of good or evil. In the fourth chapter, entitled "The Life and Cult of Sr. Alphonsa: A Celebration of Complexity and Paradox," I discuss interreligious patterns for the construction of female sacrality, the wrestling of a particular woman with these preestablished categories, and the blossoming of a cult after her death.
The next day, Sr. Josephina, a newly retired nun who was my designated research collaborator, Sr. Anita, a younger nun who knew many of the monks personally, and I set off. From the bus stop opposite the Clarist convent we embarked on a journey along winding mountain roads high up into Kerala's tea country. After about two hours, the bus dropped us off at the edge of a dirt road where we hiked further into the mountains and eventually came to the beautifully maintained gardens of the monastery.
An Orthodox Syrian neighbor of ours explained that among the wealthier classes, Orthodox Syrians and Jacobites are particularly vulnerable to conversion. Catholics, on the other hand, seem able to provide an emotional outlet similar to that of the Pentecostal movement with their own Charismatic movement. As related by our neighbor, the notable aspects of the Syrian Christian tradition left behind after conversion are devotions to saints and death anniversary Sraddham feasts for ancestors (also practiced by Catholics but not 28 Kerala Christian Sainthood necessarily challenged by the Charismatic movement).