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The Practice of madi

Brahmin priests or pucari's regularly practice madi in the preparatory stages and during the performance of specific rituals or festivals. During the observance of madi, the person has to strictly adhere to specific rules. Following these rules enables the pucari to maintain purity (cittam), so gain sakti (strength) to perform the specific ritual. Common circumstances where an pucari has to observe madi include the performance of Grihapravesham (or house purification), the performance of the cermony for one's dead ancestors, the performance of puja in temples, etc.

In all cases where madi has to be observed, the following rules apply.

  1. Avoid eating in other's houses or public places
  2. Avoid bodily contact with other jatis
  3. Abstain from sexual intercourse.

In "Being a Person the Tamil Way" Valentine Daniel explains the mulaikkal or house conception ceremony. The basic ceremony consists of the carpenter/craftsman (acari) (a minimally transacting caste) placing a pole or stone (kal) at the southwest corner (mulai) of the plot where the house will be built. Both the acari and the owner of the plot prepare for the ceremony by observing the same specific madi rules with the additional rule which can be stated as:

Daniel also identifies a set of consequences of violating these rules. However, the consequences seem to be highly mutable and so I don't use that data. Also, I am more interested in explaining the commonality of the rules for madi and those for the mulaikal ceremony.

I will attempt to explain each of the madi rules using Marriott hypothesis applied to the hot-cold data collected above.

The additional rules that the acari has to follow can also be satisfactorily explained using the metonymic logic proposed by Marriott.

Next: Hot and Cold Up: Using The Theory Previous: Using The Theory

Tue Jun 27 16:41:34 PDT 1995