Vijaya Nagarajan Lecture
Every day millions of South Indian women create rice-flour designs—called muggu in Telugu; kolam in Tamil; and rangoli in Hindi—on the threshold of homes, businesses, and temples. This ritual welcomes and honors Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and Bhudevi, the goddess of the earth. Created with great skill, artistry, and mathematical precision, the rice-flour designs disappear in a few hours, erased by passing footsteps and borne away by hungry insects.
In a lecture titled "Feeding a Thousand Souls: Women, Ritual, and Ecology in India," Vijaya Nagarajan, associate professor in the Department of Theology/Religious Studies at the University of San Franciso, braids women's voices with her own experiences of growing up with kolam. She will examine the significance of kolam in historical, mathematical, ecological, anthropological, and literary contexts.