15 June, 2021

On The Highest Style

Queer, myth-based practices bring temples to life

On The Highest Style
outlookindia.com
2019-11-22T11:30:53+05:30

Temple Tales has a valuable task at hand—giving a backgro­und into the many temples that dot the country as well as giving trivia, like the existence of medical prasad in Dhanwantari’s temple and the godd­ess Shakambhari, who rules over vegetables, and whose prasad thus consists of cauliflowers, potatoes  etc.

Each temple featured has its own unique founding story, or ‘sthalpurana’ and Tilak tells the stories of temples from various parts of India. From there she moves to prasad stories and those of sacred groves, like those in Meghalaya. However, when it comes to rocks the stories seem to peter out in architectural details like those of the terracotta temples of Bishnupur, leaving the reader wondering where the myths went beca­use they make the book interesting.

Tilak’s is an entirely personal account of the temples she is familiar with; her list does not claim to be magisterial. However, her style could also have been standardised in places—for example, she refers to Shiva as ‘dude’ and...

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