Text as Saraswati

rajam rajam at EARTHLINK.NET
Tue Jul 27 01:38:39 UTC 2010

yes, this is a gesture to offer some kind of a "symbolic apology."

I don't know when this practice started or about any scholarly  
discussion on this subject, but I know that such practice is  
widespread in many families that I know of in South India, sometimes  
to the extreme. I do it even now in a different country! It's  
somewhat a reflex action. When growing up, a cousin of mine (must be  
70+ now; so gentle-kind-hearted from childhood) used to  
"symbolically" apologize even to objects that were not books if he  
unintentionally came into contact with them by foot. Come to think of  
it, perhaps this is why in South India the day of "aayuta pooja" is  
observed -- in order to celebrate the "tools of trade."

V.S. Rajam

On Jul 26, 2010, at 9:11 AM, Joseph Walser wrote:

> I have noticed that at least among Tamil Brahmins, if someone  
> touches a book with his or her feet, she quickly touches the book  
> and touches her eyes. The explanation I have heard is that this is  
> to apologize to Saraswati who resides in the print. Can anyone tell  
> me how widespread this practice is? Does anyone know of any early  
> references to or scholarly discussion of this practice?
> Best,
> Joseph
> -- 
> Joseph Walser
> Associate Professor
> Department of Religion
> Tufts University
> 314 Eaton Hall
> Medford, MA 02155
> Office: 617 627-2322

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