Analyzing two women’s rituals in which verbal art on family and kinship is prominent, this article explores situations in which tales and songs in Assamese are staged by newly married and about-to-be-married young women. Active participation in stories and song sessions, under the guidance of older storytellers or singers, imparts practical knowledge to young women about the possible ways by which to retaliate against male domination and domestic tensions with one’s mother-in-law. The young women who participate are not merely engaged in the performance but are also encouraged to place themselves in the story. This performance study, based on the ecology of Assam and the annual calendar of festivals at the great temple of the goddess Kāmākhyā, combines the exploration of these narratives with the observation of rituals. It also seeks to question whether social language practices endow women with the power to affirm themselves and with the knowledge, through ritual performance, to deal with conflict. Finally, it shows how the use of an original ritual object—a small house—can be put into perspective with the concept of “house” as understood in particular by Lévi-Strauss.
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