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Tracy Pintchman, PhD

Professor, Theology

Women's Lives, Women's Rituals in the Hindu Tradition

Oxford University Press: 2007

(ISBN: 978-0195177077)


This book explores the complex relationship between Hindu women's rituals and their lives beyond ritual. The book focuses particularly on the relationship of women's ritual practices to domesticity, exposing and exploring the nuances, complexities, and limits of this relationship. In many cultural and historical contexts, including contemporary India, women's everyday lives tend to revolve heavily around domestic and interpersonal concerns, especially care for children, the home, husbands, and other relatives. Hence, women's religiosity also tends to emphasize the domestic realm and the relationships most central to women. But women's religious concerns certainly extend beyond domesticity. Furthermore, even the domestic religious activities that Hindu women perform may not merely replicate or affirm traditionally formulated domestic ideals but may function strategically to reconfigure, reinterpret, criticize, or even reject such ideals. This volume takes a fresh look at issues of the relationship between Hindu women's ritual practices and normative domesticity. In so doing, it emphasizes female innovation and agency in constituting and transforming both ritual and the domestic realm and calls attention to the limitations of normative domesticity as a category relevant to many forms of Hindu women's religious practice.

Guests at God's Wedding

State University of New York Press: 2005

(ISBN: 978-0-7914-6595-0)


This book explores the sacred Hindu month of Kartik (October/November) as it is celebrated in the city of Benares in North India, highlighting Kartik-related practices, stories, songs, and experiences particular to women. During Kartik, Hindu women living in and around Benares meet daily to enact a form of ritual worship, or puja, in which they raise the playful Hindu deity Krishna from childhood to adulthood throughout the month, ultimately marrying him to the plant-goddess Tulsi (Basil). Tracy Pintchman explores how women who perform Kartik puja understand and celebrate both Kartik and Krishna in ways that are linked to the desires, hopes, fears, and social realities characteristic of many Hindu women living in the rather conservative social milieu of this region.

Woman and Goddess in Hinduism

Palgrave Macmillan

(ISBN: 978-230-11369-5)


This is a volume that was co-edited with Rita D. Sherma. This book offers a multilayered exploration of Hindu understandings of the Feminine, both human and divine.

Seeking Mahadevi: Constructing the Identities of the Hindu Great Goddess

State University of New York Press: 2001

(ISBN: 978-0-7914-5007-9)


While Hindus recognize and revere a variety of different goddesses, they also tend to speak of one Great Goddess, Mahadevi, as a singular divine being who is the unity underlying all female deities. In this book, ten scholars reflect on both the diverse depictions of Mahadevi found in textual and devotional environments and the ways that the singularity and multiplicity of the divine Hindu feminine are negotiated. "Seeking Mahadevi" covers various geographical locations, from the Punjab and Bengal in North India to Kerala and Tamilnadu in the South, and makes use of evidence from ancient texts and contemporary interviews, male-authored documents and women's possession experiences, myth, ritual, and folklore. Arguing that Mahadevi has multiple, context-dependent identities that are constructed through human interpretive activity, this book highlights the great diversity of ways that those who worship Mahadevi conceive of and portray her.

The Rise of the Goddess in the Hindu Tradition

State University of New York Press: 1994

(ISBN: 978-0-7914-2112-3)


This book explores the rise of the Great Goddess by focusing on the development of sakti (creative energy), maya (objective illusion), and prakr (materiality) from Vedic times to the late Puranic period, clarifying how these principles became central to her theology.

Professor, Theology