This is a study of the worship performed at the temple of Siva Nataraja in Chidambaram. The first chapter describes the temple itself and the various shrines within it, including the mythology and traditions associated with each one. The second chapter considers the Dlksitar priests who perform these rituals; how they divide the many ritual tasks among them, administer the temple, and maintain a highly orthodox way of living. The final chapter describes the daily, annual, and occasional rituals which are the life of this great shrine.
Most of the information in this book comes from research I conducted between August 1985 and July 19874, and June through August 1988. This period constitutes the "ethnographic present" for this book. Naturally, every situation changes over time and some of the particular details are certainly different now. However, given the highly conservative nature of the temple traditions that are the subject of this study, I trust that the essential information presented here will continue to be correct for a long time.
This fieldwork is supplemented by texts about Chidambaram and the research of many Indian, American, and European scholars who have also studied this temple. Important works about the Chidambaram temple by Paul Younger, B. Natarajan, and M. Tanaka have been published between the time I wrote my dissertation and the publication of this book. I have included several references to these works to support and embellish my own findings. I hope that my research will return the favor.
Many writers have used different spellings of Indian words. I have tried to use the most easily recognized form. Place names are spelled as they appear in official publications such as railway time tables. Thus, I have used Chidambaram and Madurai instead of the more literal Citamparam and Maturai, as used by scholars such as Paul Younger and David Shulman. Words of Sanskrit origin have been transliterated using the standard spellings for Sanskrit, even though they are often used in a Tamil speaking context. For example, I use Dlksitar except when quoting another source, or when the word is part of a name that has appeared in print without diacritics. Tamil words have been transliterated using the Tamil Lexicon system.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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