Like an Indian God

Abstract : In Indian culture, like in many others over the world, witchcraft and /or evil spirits are considered as responsible of psychiatric and mental disturbances resulting of transgression of a social or divine order. In the way to identify the cause of the disorder and to rectify the situation, people invoke Hindu deities or sufi saints which have the reputation to defeat the evil spirits or to overpower the effect of sorcery. Some Catholic icons have also this quality so that they were promoted by missionaries in India to perform exorcisms. Nevertheless, the correspondence of missionaries rarely mentions Saint Anthony of Padua for performance of exorcisms and one can wonder why this saint has acquired this specificity in Tamil Nadu, and more specifically, at Puliyampatti (Tuticorin dt.). Basing on a comparison of the cult of gods in popular Hinduism, this article will propose some hypothesis that validates the function of Saint Antony as therapist and exorcist. It will show that the complex process of assimilation was facilitated by a certain sharing of concepts, believes and religious practices between popular Hinduism and Catholicism. This sharing has favoured, at least in part, the conversion to Catholicism, but it causes many troubles to the clergy which have to cope with religious practices that it regarded as 'superstitious'.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 11:39:52 AM
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Brigitte Sébastia. Like an Indian God. 2010. ⟨hal-00597160⟩

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