God as a Remover of Obstacles

A Study of Caiva Soteriology Among Ilam
Tamil Refugees in Stockholm, Sweden

Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis Historia Religionum, No. 23

By Peter Schalk
April 2004
Uppsala University Press
ISBN: 91-554-5804-1
299 pages, Illustrated, 6 " x 9 "
$59.50 Paper Original

This work focuses on Tamil Caivas in Sweden. It tells the rather recent history of their sanctuary in Stockholm, describes this sanctuary and its activities with its main god known having the attribute of vinayakar in Tamil, and the Tamil Caivas problems in Sweden as present. Most of the Tamils in Sweden are refugees from Ilam for political reasons. Many of them have left kin, friends, and poverty.

They are dependent on being supported by the Swedish Government in the beginning of their livings in Sweden. They constitute a community of sufferers who has been prey first of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, then of man smugglers, of Swedish immigration authorities, and finally of Swedish exploiting employers, if at all they get a job. The Tamil word tunpam, "suffering," is frequent in their appeals to their god Vinayakar in Swedish exile.

It is a concept that describes their past and present, but which from their point of view is replaced by vitutalai or mutti, "redemption," from suffering with his intervention. He is the foremost redeemer for the Caivas in Stockholm. His function as vinayakar already indicates that he a "Remover" of obstacles. What is called uytimarkkaviyal, "soteriology," here refers to Caiva teachings about his redemption and to the verbalized experience of redemption by the god's worshippers.


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