Watertown, MA : Documentary Educational Resources, 2007.
Video — 1 videodisc (58 min. [i.e. 45 min.]) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.
This film presents part of a much fuller record of the Agnicayana or Atirātra, a Vedic ritual of sacrifice. It was performed, perhaps for the last time, in April, 1975, by Nambudiri Brahmans in Panjal, a village in Kerala, southwest India. In relative isolation and through the centuries this Nambudiri community has remained faithful to its Vedic heritage. The twelve day Agnicayana ritual requires the participation of seventeen Nambudiri priests, and the event is preceded by several months of preparation. A ritual of sacrifice dating back 3,000 years--probably the oldest surviving human ritual--its endurance remains one of the miracles of history. The film also explains the origins of Vedic sacred literature, discusses how the oral tradition is perpetuated, shows construction of sacrificial altars and sheds, and introduces the principle participants in the ritual.