Perpetual Mourning: Widowhood in Rural India

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Oxford University Press, 2000 - Social Science - 436 pages
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While the more sensational forms of widowhood--particularly those of the child widow, the 'ascetic', and sati--have long captured the attention of Indians and foreigners, there is an alarming lack of concern for the quiet deprivations experienced by millions of widows in their everyday lives. Perpetual Mourning addresses this gap. Chen systematically examines the relationship between the ideals and the realities of widowhood in rural India. She shows how the ideological constructions of widowhood embedded in orthodox Hindu traditions and texts are manifested in customary practices and norms. Based on rich empirical data and interviews with over 500 widows from nine states, the book provides a complete picture of the day-to-day realities of widows in rural India and of the social and economic challenges widows pose to the social order.

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Contents

The Ideal Hindu Woman
19
The Sati
41
Widow From Rajasthan
52
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

Martha Alter Chen is at Harvard University.

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