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Christian Inculturation in India


A wedding necklace (thli or tali) instead of a wedding ring; an auspiciously blessed marriage mat (mukHrttam); a tonsure or topknot (kdmi, also known as sikha); a forehead mark (tilak or bindi; or kmm); use of a palanquin, white horse, and/or parasol (chtra) in a ritual procession; clarified butter (ghee) and raw sugar (ghur), honey, coconut, or some other food for a customary celebration; ingesting a ritually "cooling" or "heating" substance; sitting crosslegged for worship or prayer; maintaining a dual identity, using both a "Christian" and a "Hindu" name; taking communion only with one's right hand; "mother-tongue" worship versus Latin, Syro-Malabari (Syriac) or Sanskriti rites: the list of cultural and social issues, with controversial religious or ritual overtones, among hundreds of Christians communities of India, seems endless. Local merchant-lords first invited servants of the East India Company to build a station in India (1639); the gold title-deed (sasanam) sanctioning the "city-state" of Madras was ratified by the emperor, Sri Ranga Raya III; the gold coin (hn, also known as pagoda) used as specie for this joint venture and its emerging empire was minted within the huge temple of SriVenkateshwara; "commodities" exported to Europe were not raw materials, but bolts of highly finished textiles (chintz, calico, muslin, and so forth) that, in due course, transformed the apparel of Europe; and, finally, the Raj, founded on Indian manpower, money, and methods, relied on a standing army of up to 300,000 high-caste infantry and cavalry (sepoys, sawars, et cetera) and a bureaucracy of as many high-caste (Brahman, and others) civil servants.

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