Images of the Life Course

  • Usha Menon


Reporting on data gathered from speaking with 66 Odia Hindu women living in the temple town, the chapter discusses their conceptualizations of the life course, their understandings of typical or significant life experiences, and their expressions of satisfaction or dissatisfaction about the past and present as well as their expectations for the future. Women conceptualize the life course in a culturally distinctive fashion in terms of a two-phase model or a five-phase model: in the latter model, they divide adulthood into three phases: young adulthood (jouvana), mature adulthood (prauda), and old age (briddha avastha). In both models, marriage is regarded as the single, most significant, and transformative experience of a woman’s life. With respect to life satisfaction, most women identify the middle years of a woman’s life—prauda, or mature adulthood—as the most satisfying. Not surprisingly, perhaps, traditional Hindu ideas as presented in the dharmasastras have great salience within the temple town. The importance of marriage, the evaluation of prauda as the most desirable life phase, and the assumption that human development only occurs through social connections and familial relationships attest to this salience.


Life Satisfaction Young Adulthood Mature Adulthood Ordinary Person Natal Household 


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Copyright information

© Springer India 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Usha Menon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Culture and CommunicationDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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