Relative Status of Men and Women

This region of India is characterized by a variety of patriarchal beliefs and practices that are gradually changing with increased education, urbanization, and commercialization of the economy. Men, as the heads of households and kin groups, are the formal decision-makers. Most property is transferred from father to son.

Women own little or no property and rarely control the fruits of their labor. Nonetheless, within the context of the home women can be very influential. Many view themselves as household managers and the persons who uphold family honor by observing the dharma appropriate to their age and gender, family, and jati (Menon & Shweder, 1994; Seymour, 1999). Daughters continue to receive less education than their brothers and to have their marriages arranged at an earlier age in order to protect their sexuality.

This imbalance in the overall status of men and women is partially compensated for by beliefs in women's reproductive powers, the honor they receive as mothers, and the recognition they are given as household managers. At the metaphysical level, beliefs in powerful female deities, who have control over life and death, provide significant metaphors for the feminine.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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