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Universalization and Parochialization -Mckim Marriott

Mckim Marriott in his "Little Communities in an indigenous Civilization" gave the concept of universalization and parochialization. He examined the socio-religious organization in an Indian village Kishangarhi in Uttar Pradesh. According to Marriott, an indigenous civilization is one whose Great Tradition originates by universalization or a carrying forward of materials which are already present in the Little Tradition which it encompasses.

Such an indigenous Great Tradition has authority in so far it constitutes a more articulate and refined restatement or systematization of what is already there. He explains the concept by giving examples from the festivals of Little Tradition in Kishangarhi village. He refers to the Festival of Lights in which the local goddess of prosperity and wealth is propitiated. Marriott comments that Saurti of this Little Tradition could have been universalized into the goddess Lakshmi of the Great Tradition who stands for prosperity and wealth also.

The reverse of universalization is parochialization .It is a process of localization of limitation upon the scope of intelligibility of deprivation of literary form, of reduction to less systematic and less reflective dimensions. The process of parochialization constitutes the characteristic creative work of little communities within India's indigenous civilization. He explains the process through examples from Kishangarhi, the festival of Navarathri in which Nine Durgas are worshiped for nine successive days. In Kishangarhi a female deity Naurtha made of mud is worshiped for nine deities. Marriott points out that Durga has been parochialized into Naurtha the name also being parochialized deriving from nava ratra or nine nights.

Marriott concludes that seen through its festivals and deities the religion of the village of Kishangarhi may have originated as resulting from continuous process of communication between a little, local tradition and great traditions. Since both Great and Little traditions exist within the religion of little communities and these communities study of the religion of a little community can contribute to the understanding of processes of universalization and parochialization.