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Religion And Rajput Women: The Ethic Of Protection In Contemporary Narratives
by Lindsey Harlan
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What is the relationship between caste and gender in the narratives of Rajput woman? During a year and a half of fieldwork in Rajasthan, a parched land dominated by the great Indian Desert, Lindsey Harlan interviewed more than a hundred women from all levels of Rajput society. She wanted to understand why certain religious practices were so important to Rajput women, and how they justified these to themselves. During the course of her interviews, the women described their religious practices--chief among them the worship of the family kuldevi (the goddess who exemplifies the ideal wife by staving off sickness, poverty, and infertility) and the veneration of satimatas (women who have immolated themselves on their husband's funeral pyre). As the women discussed these rituals, many of them also told Harlan religious myths and stories, drawing parallels between their behavior and that of various Indian heroines. These narratives and the role they play in the women's self-perception are the fascinating and enlightening subject of this book.
About the Author
Lindsey Harlan is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Connecticut College.
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