Full film record of the twelve-day Nambudiri Agnicayana ritual performed in Panjal, India, the world's oldest surviving ritual, a Vedic sacrifice to Agni, the god of fire. Filmed in Kerala, southwest India, this 12-day ritual was performed in 1975 for perhaps the last time. Footage documents the material and spatial preparations for the event and ritual rehersals for the ceremony which was staged as a way of reviving an important observance in Nambudirir Vedic tradition. Shots include: construction of ritual implements and materials by carpenters, potters, and brickmakers; surveying and preparation of the ground for the sacrificial enclosures and for the main enclosure (salsa) in which the ceremony is performed; gathering of soma vines; and the complex enactment of the Agnicayana ritual itself which features extended and repetitive sequences of Vedic textual recitation and chanting. Detailed documentation of ritual phases featuring consecrations and construction of altars, oblations of ghee and various symbolic sacrifices upon the altars by priests and assistants; the preparations of soma and the rite of soma drinking; and the five-day construction and consecration of the main altar (Agni) accompanied by prescribed recitations of Vedic texts and the chanting of mantras. Various interviews with Vedic scholars and local authorities attending the event. Ritual concludes with the ceremonial buring of the ritual compound. The edited film ALTAR OF FIRE was produced from this film project.
Legacy Keywords: Ceremony India ; Liturgies recitation of vedas ; Chanting mantras as part of liturgy ; Ritual oblations Vedic ; Sacrifice goats Vedic ritual ; Priests ritual Vedic ; Religious structures consecration of sala ; Garb ceremonial dhoti priests ; Tradition Vedic revival of ; Acolytes religious Vedic ; Kilns ceremonial pottery making of Vedic ritual ; Pottery ceremonial use of Vedic ritual ; Carpentry Vedic ritual ; Baths ritual purification Vedic ; Temples Vedic Hindi ; Bricks use of in ritual Vedic ; Horses use of in ritual Vedic ; Turbans ritual use of Vedic ; Plants ritual use of soma vines palasa leaves ; Incense ritual use of Vedic ; Firemaking ritual aspect of Vedic ; Prayer in Vedic liturgy ; Milk ritual use of Vedic ; Prostrations in ritual Vedic ; Language and culture
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