(Last Updated on : 02/09/2011)
Dravidian Animism has two outstanding features: the spirits are from outside the object of worship and these spirits have a human origin. Some historians believe that Animism is not a satisfactory term in this regard as it does not accurately describe the Dravidian conception. The Census Commission of India has adopted the term, animism, for the Dravidian religion. Demonolatry or devil worship describes almost the Dravidian ideas. All ideas and worship are linked to evil spirits.
The customs connected with Goddess Matangi
are outstanding. She is a Madiga whose touch would pollute a Brahman. A Brahman would panic if a leaf plate which has been used falls in front of his door. The people eat with their fingers and it is deemed that the saliva has come into contact with the plate. It is believed that this contact with the Matangi is for purification. At the same time the Brahmans feel that Matangi is a great devil. The spirit of Matangi makes people immune in two ways. As she is a devil herself, it is better to have her favour. After she has spat upon the people no other demon would spend time on them. Anyone who agrees to be spat upon by a Madiga woman would be a poor prey for other demons.
The fear of the evil eye is due to the fear of evil spirits. A person may have some evil influence which is conversed by a look which is called drishti-dosha. There is some fear of the look of a human being especially if he is a stranger. This conception however appears to be more Brahmanic than Dravidian. The Dravidian idea of the evil eye is that there are several evil spirits waiting to do harm all time. These spirits appear to be very much dependent on human suggestion and initiative. If special attention is focussed on any object or person, and if something complimentary is said, some listening spirit will take notice and thinking the object is desirable, will bring about some evil.
Keeping in mind about the Dravidian morality and the spirits were once human beings, it is probable that the original idea was that the spirits would have more interest in these figures and would not proceed further. In the worship of Bangaramma and in case of some other Gods the Madigas condemn the higher castes. The ordinary worship of Dravidian local deities is interpreted on the hypothesis of demonolatry. The aim of worship is to stop some epidemic trouble which has appeared in the village. The concerned deity is angry and must be propitiated. As far as village deity is concerned the cause of the anger may be that she is expecting offerings. In case of a visiting goddess like Kanaka Durgamma
, the offering is given to induce her to leave peaceably.