Sacred Geographies, Religious Cultures, and Popular Practices


A conference titled “Sacred Geographies, Religious Cultures, and Popular Practices” will be held at Government Arts College in Tiruvannamalai from June 26-28, 2014. Here is the website for the conference. This conference looks interesting, and you may want to attend or even present a paper.

The conference covers a range of multi-disciplinary themes centered on religious and cultural history, traditions, practices, and events. This includes physical monuments and artifacts as well as people, literature and arts. It is especially, but not exclusively, focused on the culture and religion in South India, including Tiruvannamalai (where the conference is being held).


The aim of the conference is not only to share information, but to convey an increased awareness of the need for preservation of sacred and historic sites and traditions.

Arunachala World History Site initiative

The conference will also present information about ongoing efforts and concrete steps that can be taken to preserve historical areas, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site program. Tiruvannamalai’s own sacred treasure, the Holy Mountain Arunachala, will be discussed as a case study for achieving preservation of a historic and sacred site through the UNESCO World Heritage Site program.

Call for Papers

The conference invites papers that engage with the forging of religious cultures, institutions, popular practices and their links and intersections with local, regional and global forces embodied in sacred spaces such as Tiruvannamalai. If you are interested, you are invited to submit an abstract to by March 30th 2014. See this page for more information about this.

Papers are sought in the following areas:

  • Histories of sectarian religious cultures, institutions in Tiruvannamalai and their networks and intersections with local, regional and global forces and spaces.
  • Royal Power, Temple traditions, Rituals and Devadasi Traditions in Tiruvannamalai.
  • Contest for identification and preservation of Heritage sites  in Tiruvannamalai
  • Christian and Muslim Sacred lineages and sites in Tiruvannamalai.
  • The ‘Secular ‘and the ‘Sacred’: Religion and Popular Culture in Tiruvannamalai.
  • The Making of Tiruvannamalai as a regional and global Sacred Space.
  • Sacred Geographies, Literary Histories and Contemporary Novelistic Accounts.
  • Agro-Rural and Pastoral traditions in Tiruvannamalai including the vanishing tradition of Festival Bull Market (Mattu Chandai).
  • Socio-cultural Histories of Mutts and Dormitory houses, (Chattirams) and changing traditions of Annadanam (Sacral offering of Food for the Needy) in sacred spaces such as Tiruvannamalai.
  • Medieval and Early Modern Puranic and Religious biographies of Tiruvannamalai (e.g.) Saiva Ellappa Navalar, Appaya Dikshitar,Tirupugazh Arunagirinathar, Sivaprakasa Swamigal, Gugai Namasivayar , Guru  Namasivayar, Gouthama Maharishi, Bhagavan Ramana maharishi, Shesathri Swamigal and Sri Yogiram surathkumar.
  • Saintly Lineages and Sectarian Writings and Sacred Geographies: Saivite, Vaishnavite, Vedantists, Siddhar tradition.
  • Cinema, Media and the construction of Sacred Spaces,
  • Tiruvannamalai as a space of regional and Global Spiritual Tourism.
  • Gender and empowerment of women.
  • Tribal cultures and intersections.

They welcome individual or panel proposals from all disciplines–History, Religion, Anthropology, Women Studies, Tamil Literature, English Literature etc., from scholars, students, artists, writers, and activists.


Attendees (and presenters) must register by 20th April – 2014. There will be a small fee for attendance. See this page for more information.

Contact person

If you have questions, or want to know more, contact Dr. R. Sthanislas, Assistant Professor of History, Government Arts College, Tiruvannamalai, at or call +91 94442 11597.


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