Mother Goddess in Kerala: Discursive Struggles and Contested Signifiers in a Popular Faith Phenomenon


Mata Amritanandamayi faith is a popular faith phenomenon that began in Kerala, South India during the late 1970s. Over the years, Mata faith has undergone changes informed by and in response to the debates and discussions in the Kerala public sphere, and the sensibilities of an expanding middle-class. The central character of the phenomenon, devotion of and in the godly figure Mata Amritanandamayi remained the same, although the faith practices became intense and widespread in the turn of the century. However, the image it represents acquired cultural signification of a mother over the years through various biographies, anecdotes, testimonies and visual practices. I argue that the central character of the Mata faith is the iconisation of a certain image of mother already represented through cinema, literature and other journalistic media as the ideal mother. This devotee-mother, I argue, personifies the image of a virtuous mother in the perception of the dominant upper-caste traditions in Kerala.

Author Information
Priya Chandran, English and Foreign Languages University, India

Paper Information
Conference: ECCS2016
Stream: Cultural Studies

This paper is part of the ECCS2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon