Director Girish Kasaravalli's first feature takes place in a Hindu orthodox village in the Indian state of Karnataka, where an elderly Vedic scholar named Udupa (Ramaswamy Iyengar) runs a religious school in his home. His daughter Yamuna (Meena Kuttappa), widowed since childhood and forbidden by tradition to remarry, lives with him along with the students, the youngest of whom, Nani (Ajit Kumar), a shy little boy often teased by the older students, forms a bond with her. After Yamuna is seduced by a local teacher and becomes pregnant, she is gradually ostracized by the villagers, but Nani, who is too young to understand what's happening, decides to protect and defend her. The ritual of the film's title is a Hindu rite in which a person is punished by having a funeral ritual performed for them by a relative. Udupa performs this rite for Yamuna, effectively banishing her from the living.
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