My Grandmother’s Bones
Keywords:Hindu death rituals, caste, brahmin, maila (impurity), madi (purity)
This article examines the materiality of death in the funerary rites of a Vaidiki brahmin family in Telugu-speaking South India. In this self-reflexive piece, I explore the concepts of madi (ritual purity) and maila (ritual impurity) in relation to my grandmother’s life and death, respectively. I also consider the materiality of my grandmother’s bones in the funerary rites, including the final cremation and post-cremation rituals conducted by my father and uncles in Hyderabad, Telangana in August 2013. The article concludes by reflecting on the resilience of my grandmother, a brahmin widow for more than thirty years of her life.
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