International Journal of Research and Review

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Case Study

Year: 2018 | Month: June | Volume: 5 | Issue: 6 | Pages: 69-71

Historicizing the Non-Brahmin Identity and Cultural Syncretism of Kerala: A Case of Thiruvalla

Jithin Sankar

Assistant Professor, Dept. of History, NSS Hindu College Changanacherry, Kerala


Syncretism is a combination of two separate ideas that combined together as a unique discourse Cultural syncretism can be described as a kind of cultural amalgamation of two or more different cultural structures that create a new tradition, design, practice, or philosophy. An analytical approach persuaded by modern anthropologists and which has been found to be extremely widespread in the study of traditions, is to classify them into two broad categories-the Little Tradition and the Great Tradition. Little Tradition is close to primitive and will be marked by its continuity. The basic feature of Little Tradition is “nature-oriented”. The Great Tradition is more powerful intellectually and hence dominant. Great Tradition in its turn, proceeds by absorbing the good qualities of Little Tradition and places its permanent stamp of authority on the latter. In other words, the Little Tradition is compelled to accept supremacy of Great Tradition. Consequently the Little Tradition slowly gets relegated, sidelined or even erased in this process. Robert Redfield as a discernible phenomenon in each society has conceived this. Some of the vital factors that make up the identity of a social group are its distinctive lifestyle, cultural practices and observances. As a direct consequence of the interaction between the Great Tradition and the Little Tradition, mixed traditions also take shape. However it will still be possible for the anthropologist and the historian to discern the remnants or elements of the various cultural practices and observances of the ‘originary’, wired and primitive Little Traditions in the mixed tradition but tactfully subordinated by the Great Tradition. The Brahmin settlement in Thiruvalla had attracted the interest of many scholars and historians. It is possible to contextualize the religious and cultural legacy of Thiruvalla to the theoretical framework of a cultural syncretism.

Key words: Syncretism, Mixed Tradition, Non-Brahmin, Primitivism, Parochialization, Universalization .

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