Water and Womanhood: Religious Meanings of Rivers in Maharashtra / Edition 1

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Overview


Rivers in India are commonly associated with certain worldly religious values: wealth, beauty, long life, good health, food, love, and the birth of children. However, these "domestic" values have been relatively neglected by Indologists, who have tended to view India and Hinduism through the prism of poverty, misery, asceticism, and themes of purity or pollution. Following recent scholarship by arguing that the earthly pursuits are equally vital to an understanding of popular Hinduism, Feldhaus examines the role of these ideals in the religious meanings of rivers in Maharashtra, a large region of western India. Drawing both on written religious texts and on a wide range of oral, iconographic, and ritual materials gathered in the course of field work in India, she shows that these values, which are usually associated with women or represented by goddesses, are an important motif in popular religious practices and oral traditions associated with the rivers of Maharashtra, and she presents the many different ways in which rivers are imagined, enshrined, worshipped, and feared.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195092837
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/11/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Table of Contents

Note on Translation and Transliteration
Abbreviations
Introduction 3
1 Mountains, Rivers, and Siva 20
The Sources of Rivers 20
The Descent of the Ganga 24
Mountains, Lingas, and Siva 26
Water-Carrying Rituals 29
Interpretations 33
2 The Femininity of Rivers 40
Rivers as Feminine 40
Rivers and Cows 46
Female River Divinities 47
Rivers as Husbandless Wives 53
3 Abundance 65
Mahatmya Stories 66
Folklore: The Mysterious Wealth of the Depths 69
Rituals of Feeding 72
River Goddess Festival Calendars 80
Rivers as Mothers 82
4 Untamed Natural Wealth 91
Fish 91
The Forest 96
5 Sons and Sorrow 118
Folk Goddesses and the Navas 120
The Sati Asara 126
Case Histories 131
God's Tears 140
6 Modern River Goddess Festivals 146
Description of the Festivals 146
History of the Krsnabai Festival 158
Wider Worlds 163
Krsnabai and Folk Religion 166
7 Combating Evil 173
Types of Sin 174
Models for Doing Away with Sin 178
Appendix A Water to the Gods 193
Appendix B Images of Modern River Goddesses 198
Appendix C Modern River Goddess Festivals 201
Bibliography 203
Index 227
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