Brill’s Encyclopedia of the Religions of the Indigenous People of South Asia Online

Get access Subject: Asian Studies

Edited by:
Marine Carrin (Editor-in-Chief), University of Toulouse Jean Jaurès, and Michel Boivin, Centre for South Asian Studies (CNRS-EHESS), Gérard Toffin, Centre d’Études Himalayennes, Paul Hockings, University of Illinois at Chicago, Raphaël Rousseleau, Université de Lausanne, Tanka Subba, North-Eastern Hill University, Harald Lambs-Tyche, University of de Picardie-Jules Verne (Section Editors)

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Brill’s Encyclopedia of the Religions of the Indigenous People of South Asia strives to reflect the diversity of indigenous cultures of South Asia with its many language groups and religious traditions. Shaped by their own mythologies, these tribal religions differ in form and content from Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, Sikhism, and Christianity, though variants of the latter traditions have been adopted by some indigenous people. Religion is taken in a broad sense and includes aspects of morality, symbolism, identity formation, environmental concerns, and art. Far from being simple survivals of an earlier stage, these religions often show remarkable capacity for adaptation and change. The approach is contemporary rather than a reconstruction of an anterior state, though it does not overlook relevant historical processes.

More information:

Mala Pandaram: Fact Sheet

(296 words)

Author(s): Morris, Brian
The Mala Pandaram (Mala Pandāram), also known as the Hill Pandaram, form a small community – according to the 2001 census around 5,900 – of which perhaps 2,700 now live in settled colonies in the forested hills that border Kerala and Tamil Nadu states, between Lake Periyār and the town of Thenmala. They speak the Mala Pandaram language, a Dravidian language related to Malayalam and/or Tamil. Because of their remote location, they have only limited contact with the people of the plains, or even w…
Date: 2019-11-02

Mala Pandaram: The Religion of the Mala Pandaram

(5,992 words)

Author(s): Morris, Brian
The religion of the Mala Pandaram cannot be considered a form of Hinduism, as the people of this community, like the Todas to the north, worship specific hill deities ( mala devis) that bear no relationship to the Hindu pantheon. Thus, many hills are associated with a mala devi, and there is very roughly one such deity for every 20 km2 of forest. However, it is not that the deity resides in a hill: rather, the hill itself is usually spoken of as if it were the deity, though both share the same name. These mala devis are plentiful and may attract devotees from various parts of the region ra…
Date: 2019-11-02