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On Chattan. Conflicting Statements about a South Indian Deity

Abstract : This essay aims at discussing conflicting representations of a South Indian deity, Cāttan (or Chathan, according to its popular rendition in English), well known throughout South India for its magical powers, One of the issues addressed by this study is how to characterize a deity who is the object of conflicting opinions and practices. As a way to sideline this difficulty in English, I shall use here ‘deity’, but Cāttan has also been variously described as a ‘spirit’, a ‘ghost’, an ‘imp’, a ‘demon’, and a ‘god’. The terminology itself implies a moral judgment—a condemnation, a disregard, a fear, or a devotional feeling, that is, socially and ideologically marked viewpoints. How then is the social scientist supposed to write about Cāttan? I take the case of this deity only as an example, as I trust that the question equally concerns the description of many other ones.
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Gilles Tarabout. On Chattan. Conflicting Statements about a South Indian Deity. Manu V. Devadevan. Clio and her Descendants. Essays for Kesavan Veluthat, Primus Books, pp.454-478, 2018, 978-93-86552-97-6. ⟨halshs-02937007⟩



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