Published September 2004
Published by Muthal Naidoo
Text & Photographs © Muthal Naidoo

Muthal Naidoo Publishing
PO Box 3045
Littleton South, 0176

Cover design and book layout
Gumani Makhado
(SAHO - South African History Online)
Scans by Werner Strauss, PC du Plessis & sure_pix
Printing by Typo Printers

ISBN NO: 0-620-32525-9


Preface                v
Acknowledgements                    vii
Hinduism                                03
Ayyapan Worship            11
The Caste System            13
The Marieamman Temple:   Pretoria    15
Ritual Practice                    19
Household Prayers              25
Naming a Baby            27
The pumpkin ceremony to bless a car    29
Yegyim (Havan)                31
Kavadi and Garagam            37
Navagiragam                45
Calendar of Temple Festivals        49
Tamil Literature and Religion    57
Guru Poojay     61
Marriage        65
Last Rites        87
Songs, Prayers, Dedications         99
Glossary            119
Bibliography        129



Religious rites and traditions that have been passed down for centuries reflect the cultures of the past and need constant elucidation in order to make them accessible to new generations.

This book, which outlines the practices and understanding of Poosari Ronnie Naidoo of Pretoria, an ardent scholar of Hinduism, provides explanations and may be regarded as a manual of Tamil rituals.

Ritual procedures, set out step-by-step, are meant for people who wish to conduct their own ceremonies and streamline them to suit modern times and needs.

Tamil formularies are among the most complex of holy rites  because:

  • They include such a wealth of symbols and liturgies that it is easy to lose track of meaning and reduce them to magic and superstition.
  • Practices are not identical though they conform to similar patterns.  Procedures differ from place to place, temple to temple, home to home and individual to individual.
  • They were influenced by transplanation to South Africa  and in a new environment, practitioners worked from memory and practices tended to remain fixed in the past and to resist change.
  • As the use of Tamil declined, the symbolism and meaning of rituals became obscure.
  • Being transplanted to a largely Christian context, the religion, regarded as pagan and inferior, underwent modification.

This book is not for Tamils only but for all those who want a quick grasp of Hinduism.

Muthal Naidoo
September 2004
Notes at the end of chapters:

Each note has a number after it. The number refers to the songs etc.  in the list of songs etc. to be found in the last chapter Songs and Prayers, pages 99 to 118.



Sincerest thanks:

To all those who provided pictures and information for the book: Jeram Bhana, Arushni Pillay, Thanga Kollapen, Dhano Pillay, Thanabalam Subrimani, Asherndra Naidoo, The Marieamman Temple, The Melrose Temple, The Laudium Temple.

To Shizeeda Osman and Carol Parsons for reading the manuscript.

To Gumani Makhado for the layout.

To SAHO for support and assistance.