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Tracing Bhānumatī Through the Tamil Folklore and the Field


· Perundevi Srinivasan Siena College (Loudonville, United States of America)


07/27 | 16:10-16:30 UTC+2/CEST


My paper explores the narratives and practices related to Periyāṇṭacchi (“She, of the big universe”) in Dharmapuri region of Tamilnadu, locating her in the folklore of the Mahābhārata. Identified with Duryodhana’s wife Bhānumatī or Peruntiruvāḷ, the goddess is celebrated biennially by scores of families, belonging to Vanniya Kavundar caste, as their clan deity. I analyze the local narratives of the episodes of Arjuna’s encounter with a hunter couple and Śiva’s granting the pāśupata boon to him, forming part of the play “Arjuna’s Tapas” (“Arjuna’s Penance”), which have contributed to the making of Duryodhana’s wife into a goddess.