Sexuality

Sex is primarily associated with marriage and reproduction and should not be an end in itself. Outside of sacred conjugal love, sex is viewed as antisocial and dangerous because it challenges the principles of caste and kinship hierarchies—hence, the negativity with which "love marriages" are viewed. Conjugal love should be prem bhakti (love and devotion), not just prem (sexual love) (Fruzetti, 1982). Given that women's bodies are considered more permeable and hot (sexual) than those of men, and that for them sex outside of marriage endangers family honor, it is understandable that once upper-status girls reach menarche they are subjected to numerous restrictions. Fewer restrictions are imposed upon lower-status girls whose caste status and work outside the home make them already impure.

There are caste and gender-based double standards with respect to premarital and extramarital sex. Sex outside marriage is prohibited to upper-status women but not to upper-status men, who may construe marital sex for reproductive purposes and seek sexual pleasure else-where—often with economically vulnerable low-status women and widows. Because men's bodies are considered less easily defiled than women's, extramarital sex for men has less impact on their purity and family honor.

Little open expression of sexuality is allowed children, although their curiosity may be piqued by sleeping in close proximity with elders, hearing about the sexual escapades of gods and goddesses, reading erotic devotional poetry, or seeing contemporary films. Sexual joking occurs among segregated groups of male and female adolescents and adults, especially as a wedding approaches. A new bride may be subjected to sexual teasing by female in-laws but is allowed to joke sexually with her youngest brother-in-law.

With aging, men's and women's bodies are believed to cool and close, and sexual desire to decline or cease.

Male and female homosexuality are just beginning to be recognized in contemporary India, but there is literary evidence in both Oriya and Bengali that homophobia was once less prevalent in this region (Vanita & Kidwai, 2000). Meanwhile, the sexual segregation of many activities may enable same-sex love to coexist with marriage. Overt cross-sex identification and cross-dressing are limited to hijras—groups of castrated, transgendered, and transvestite men who are entertainers and prostitutes.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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