Oct 22, 2015
from 05:00 PM to 06:30 PM
|Where||Seminar Room, Social Anthropology|
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Professor Anthony Good (University of Edinburgh)
Animal Sacrifice and the Law in Tamil Nadu, South India
Animal sacrifice forms the climax of many Tamil religious festivals, even though legislation banning such sacrifices had been on the statute book since 1950. The paper begins by describing the part played by animal sacrifice in a typical village goddess festival. It then considers the debates surrounding the passing of the Madras Animals and Birds Sacrifices Prevention Act (1950), and addresses the somewhat puzzling question of its initial non-enforcement. It asks why the state government suddenly insisted upon implementing this ban in 2003, more than 50 years afterwards, only to reverse its policy a few months later to the extent even of repealing the Act in question. The paper seeks to understand these seemingly arbitrary policy reversals as manifestations of tensions between reformist, urbanised, often high-caste Hindus and their traditionally minded, largely rural, counterparts. In modern India, a constitutionally-secular state which nonetheless guarantees freedom of belief and worship, the struggles between these two competing visions of religiosity frequently take on political and legal dimensions too.