‘She Doesn’t Need Mutiyettu’ There’

The Interplay of Divine Mood, Taste and Dramatic Offerings in South Indian Folk Hinduism


  • Marianne Pasty-Abdul Wahid Independent researcher




Bhadrakāḷi, Dārikan, Malayalam, muṭiyēṯṯu’, ritual drama


The selection of Bhadrakali shrines of central Kerala (South India) in which the ritual drama mutiyettu' is conducted as an offering is restricted by religious considerations surrounding the personality of the goddess: performances can only be safely and efficiently given in shrines housing a deity who is in the right mood and has the appropriate nature for being able to be pleased by them and derive benefits from them. Drawing from data primarily gathered in the context of mutiyettu', this article highlights the role played by dramatic offerings in the management of a deity's temper. By discussing issues pertaining to the fields of both performance anthropology and religious studies, it sheds some light on the popular conceptualization of the Hindu goddess, the logic behind the composition of her worship, especially in terms of performing arts, as well as the active power assigned to drama within the popular Hindu context.

Author Biography

Marianne Pasty-Abdul Wahid, Independent researcher

Marianne Pasty-Abdul Wahid is a researcher in cultural and religious anthropology, holder of a PhD in Social Anthropology and Ethnology (from EHESS, Paris), and a freelance translator. She spent more than a decade studying popular Hindu ritual performances from South India (Kerala) within their broader cultural, religious, social and political context, especially those conducted as part of the worship of goddess Bhadrakāḷi. Her current research also includes popular Hindu literature, myths and folklore, temple management and patronage, possession, as well as the cultural aspects of illness (infectious diseases).


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How to Cite

Pasty-Abdul Wahid, M. (2018). ‘She Doesn’t Need Mutiyettu’ There’: The Interplay of Divine Mood, Taste and Dramatic Offerings in South Indian Folk Hinduism. Religions of South Asia, 11(1), 72–98. https://doi.org/10.1558/rosa.33374