Discuss the function of Teli in India.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The production of oil is one of the most important functions of the Teli caste in Indian society.  The notion of cooking oil is extremely important in so many aspects of Indian life.  For nearly every meal in India, cooking oil is important.  The Teli production of oil plays a very vital role in the Indian lifestyle and being.  At the same time, there is a spiritual dimension of importance to the Teli.  The beliefs are that the Teli were the original producers of oil that was used in religious ceremonies.  The belief is that the Teli were commissioned by Lord Shiva himself to produce the oil that was to be used in the cleaning of the Shiva representation of the Linga.  The practice of Linga worship is one that is extremely fastidious and very much animated by cleaning and meticulous care.  To this end, it is believed that Lord Shiva himself asked the Teli to develop the first oil that was to be used to clean the Linga.  This helps to establish the Teli in the mind of many as extremely important in the Savite branch of Hindu spiritual worship, and their overall purpose in creating oil is of vital importance to modern Indian lifestyle.

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