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Creation of social space through prayers among Dalits in Kerala, India

Journal of Religious and Political Practice, Volume 2, 2016 – Issue 1

Control over social space was central to the everyday practice of caste in Kerala, India. Caste system in Kerala had evolved extreme forms of control over social space, which was critiqued by European missionaries in the nineteenth century. The missionary work among the slave castes that emphasized learning prayers and the Gospel provided the untouchable slaves with a new conceptual language. This was central to the claims of slave castes to the social space as they could come together defying the caste rules and regulations of distance pollution for prayer meetings which began in the slave schools and chapels in the evening after a day’s back-breaking labor in their landlords’ fields. The slave schools and chapels created a new social space that enabled the slave castes to claim all other modern social spaces. The slaves took over new cultural practices such as forming social organizations from the missionaries and used them effectively in their congregational activities. The experiences of social movements such as the Prathyaksha Raksha Daiva Sabha (PRDS) show that the former slave castes could effectively use prayer as a powerful instrument to claim social space which was highly structured and in egalitarian.

URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/20566093.2016.1085735

Courtesy: T&F

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