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Exploring the roots of village Hinduism in South Asia

Title:Exploring the roots of village Hinduism in South Asia
Author:Heather Elgood
Publication:World Archaeology / Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group
Enumeration:vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 326-342, September 2004
Abstract:This paper explores the roots of contemporary village religion. The eclectic nature and interaction of both rural and orthodox Puranic Hinduism have made any attempt to dissect the traditions difficult. The question arises as to which had the greatest impact, Puranic Hinduism or the non-Vedic cults, on the development of village religion. To answer this, this article will first establish the principal features of village Hinduism. Because of the constraints imposed by a short paper it will focus specifically on the ritual worship of the goddess in her various forms, through the development of an associated iconography. It will also explore historical continuity, through a study of texts, archaeological materials and evidence from ethno-archaeology. The paper concludes that rural religion represents an amalgam of local superstitions, non-Vedic cultic practice and orthodox Puranic Hinduism, which is itself an assimilation of many of these elements.

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