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Women's Lives, Women's Rituals in the Hindu Tradition$
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Tracy Pintchman

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195177060

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195177060.001.0001

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 The Play of the Mother:

 The Play of the Mother:

Possession and Power in Hindu Women's Goddess Rituals

(p.149) 8 The Play of the Mother:
Women's Lives, Women's Rituals in the Hindu Tradition

Kathleen M. Erndl

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores questions of Hindu women's power in connection with goddess possession rituals in the Kangra Valley area of Himachal Pradesh, North India. In Kangra, it is not uncommon for women to become possessed by a goddess, to speak with her voice, and to act as healers and mediums in their communities. Possession grants householder women opportunities to travel beyond their domiciles and form a female community with other women, however temporary. This in turn may provide women access to advice, support, or even material assistance. These ritual spaces are “cracks” in a patriarchal system that cannot be completely controlled by patriarchal norms and that provide outlets for women's creativity and interconnection.

Keywords:   Hindu women, goddess possession, rituals, Kangra Valley, power, patriarchal system

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