Chapter 11 Ritual Narrative

In this first of our synthesis chapters we present a detailed overview of the rituals and behaviors as encountered by a young woman in Bihar. This overview is told as a third-person narrative that follows a fictive character, Roshni, through the many decisions and inputs that are typical of a young mother’s perinatal journey, from just before pregnancy to the first week after delivery. To the extent possible, the decisions made by Roshni are those of the typical or average woman in Bihar. We add commentary for what other decisions women make to provide a sense of variation across behaviors. This account of Roshni’s journey is not anecdotal, but based on accounts derived from thousands of women in Bihar. This descriptive narrative can be drawn upon to inform other outputs and provides the primary culmination of the documentation of rituals, practices, and behaviors made by project RISE. This chapter focuses on perinatal ritual content and the next focuses on the findings that emerge as indirect consequences of documenting rituals, how they work, and what they do.