Religious Practices and Beliefs of Bedakampana Lingayats Residing in the Thalakkarai Hamlet of the Burgur Hills in Tamil Nadu
India, the world's largest democratic nation, boasts a diverse and rich cultural heritage, with a population of approximately 1,417,681,535 as of April 15, 2023. The country comprises 28 states and 8 union territories, housing a citizenry that represents various religions, origins, dialects, and beliefs. Within this diverse population, certain communities reside in remote suburbs or forested areas, such as the Bedakampana Lingayats of Thalakkarai village live in the Western Ghats of Tamil Nadu. Despite limited attention from social scientists, these Lingayats embrace their traditions as a means of navigating modernity. They demonstrate a remarkable balance between preserving their distinct identity and actively contributing to India's rich cultural and religious diversity. This paper aims to explore the religious practices and beliefs of the Bedakampana Lingayats of Thalakkarai, focusing on their worship rituals, religious ceremonies, and festivals. The Lingayats, also known as Lingawants, Lingangis, Lingadharis, Shivabhaktas, and Virasaivas, are devout followers of Lord Shiva. As strict vegetarians, they prefer to be addressed as Virasaivas. Their name derives from the Sanskrit word "Linga", symbolizing their profound devotion to Lord Shiva. By delving into their religious lives and examining the authenticity of their practices, this study sheds light on the contributions of the Bedakampana Lingayats to India's cultural and religious tapestry.
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