In this book, Tracy Pintchman has assembled ten leading scholars of Hinduism to explore the complex relationship between Hindu women's rituals and their lives beyond ritual. The book focuses particularly on the relationship of women's ritual practices to domesticity, exposing and exploring the nuances, complexities, and limits of this relationship. In many cultural and historical contexts, including contemporary India, women's everyday lives tend to revolve heavily around domestic and interpersonal concerns, especially care for children, the home, husbands, and other relatives. Hence, women's religiosity also tends to emphasize the domestic realm and the relationships most central to women. But women's religious concerns certainly extend beyond domesticity. Furthermore, even the domestic religious activities that Hindu women perform may not merely replicate or affirm traditionally formulated domestic ideals but may function strategically to reconfigure, reinterpret, criticize, or even reject such ideals. This volume takes a fresh look at issues of the relationship between Hindu women's ritual practices and normative domesticity. In so doing, it emphasizes female innovation and agency in constituting and transforming both ritual and the domestic realm and calls attention to the limitations of normative domesticity as a category relevant to many forms of Hindu women's religious practice.
"Women's Lives, Women's Rituals in the Hindu Tradition is an enticingly rich collection. The theme of women's ritual performance and its challenges to and conformity with domesticity set the stage for a range of observations and analyses. Making impressive use of this range, the volume describes from a variety of contexts how religious performances can enhance as well as curtail women's agency and autonomy. Naturally of benefit to students and scholars interested in the rituals and lives of Hindu women, the collection is also a great resource for investigating the vast and variegated nature of Hindu traditions." —Corinne Dempsey, author of The Goddess Lives in Upstate New York: Breaking Convention and Making Home at a North American Hindu Temple and Kerala Christian Sainthood: Collisions of Culture an Worldview in South India.
Tracy Pintchman is a professor of religious studies at Loyola University Chicago and author of The Rise of the Goddess in the Hindu Tradition and Guests at God's Wedding: Celebrating Kartik among the Women of Benares.
List of Illustrations xi
Introduction Tracy Pintchman 3
The Cat in the Courtyard: The Performance of Sanskrit and the Religious Experience of Women Laurie L. Patton 19
Wandering from "Hills to Valleys" with the Goddess: Protection and Freedom in the Matamma Tradition of Andhra Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger 35
Lovesick Gopi or Woman's Best Friend? The Mythic Sakhi and Ritual Friendships among Women in Benares Tracy Pintchman 55
Words That Breach Walls: Women's Rituals in Rajasthan Lindsey Harlan 65
Threshold Designs, Forehead Dots, and Menstruation Rituals: Exploring Time and Space in Tamil Kolams Vijaya Rettakudi Nagarajan 85
Domesticity and Difference/Women and Men: Religious Life in Medieval Tamilnadu Leslie C. Orr 109
The Anatomy of Devotion: The Life and Poetry of Karaikkal Ammaiyar Elaine Craddock 131
The Play of the Mother: Possession and Power in Hindu Women's Goddess Rituals Kathleen M. Erndl 149
Does Tantric Ritual Empower Women? Renunciation and Domesticity among Female Bengali Tantrikas June McDaniel 159
Performing Arts, Re-forming Rituals: Women and Social Change in SouthIndia Vasudha Narayanan 177