Book: Religion and Touch
Chapter: 6. The Senses and Their Absences in Balinese and Tamil Hinduism
Hindu ritual is always and everywhere deeply sensory and sensual. In Bali this is spectacularly and famously obvious in temple ritual, which is a feast for all the senses, but least of all touch – apparently. But it is there between the lines – not highlighted, but in the background. In Tamil Nadu, a very different corner of the Hindu world, touch is more central, both ordinary touch and the subtle, extrasensory “touch” that occurs in darshan – the central moment in the ritual process. This chapter explores these spectrums of presence and absence of touch. It also “touches” upon the political-economic realities often obscured behind the sensory and symbolic feasts of ritual.