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3. The Guises of the Goddess and the Transformation of the Male: Gangamma’s Visit to Tirupati, and the Continuum of Gender

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Chapter Summary

This area of the modern city, with its narrow gullies and caste-named streets, is sometimes referred to as 'Old Tirupati'. The character of the Goddess of each shrine and the linkage between them delineate the patterning of Gangamma's relationship to Tirupati and to her worshippers. The implicit agenda of the sequence of guises is to transform Gangamma's sense of self for the benefit of her worshippers, enticing her out of her own centre, her 'middle', into her full presence among human beings. These formulations speak of the emergence of the self and the shaping of identity in the disguise and revelation of Gangamma. Gangamma returns within herself together with, at least momentarily, the holistic fullness of self-awareness that is also her encompassment of and relation to the other, her devotees. Nonetheless the role of goddess rites and their cosmologies in the integration of left-hand castes has hardly been broached.

Keywords: Gangamma; Goddess; Tirupati



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