India: 'Devadasis are a cursed community'

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India: 'Devadasis are a cursed community'

Postby sam » Fri Jan 21, 2011 9:47 am

The details in this excerpt are horrific, read on with care to your emotional health.

'Devadasis are a cursed community'

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/ ... k-religion

Girls from poor families of the "untouchable", or lower, caste are "married" to Yellamma as young as four. No longer allowed to marry a mortal, they are expected to bestow their entire lives to the service of the goddess.

The devadasi system has been part of southern Indian life for many centuries. A veneer of religion covers the supply of concubines to wealthy men. Trained in classical music and dance, the devadasis lived in comfortable houses provided by a patron, usually a prominent man in the village. Their situation changed as the tradition was made illegal across India in 1988, and the temple itself has publicly distanced itself from their plight.

The change started in colonial times. Academics dispute what the British thought of the custom, but their presence meant that kings and other patrons of temples lost their power and much of their economic influence.

Now the system is seen as a means for poverty-stricken parents to unburden themselves of daughters. Though their fate was known, parents used religion to console themselves, and the money earned was shared.

Roopa, now 16, has come to buy bangles at the festival. She was dedicated to the goddess seven years ago and was told that Yellamma would protect her. Her virginity was auctioned in the village, and since then she has supported her family by working as a prostitute out of her home in a village close to Saundatti.

"The first time it was hard," she admits. In fact, her vagina was slashed with a razor blade by the man she was supposed to sleep with the first time. Her future, like that of other devadasis, is uncertain. Once they are around 45, at which point they are no longer considered attractive, devadasis try to eke out a living by becoming jogathis or begging near the temple.

Chennawa, now 65 and blind, is forced to live on morsels of food given by devotees. "I was first forced to sleep with a man when I was 12," she says. "I was happy that I was with Yellamma. I supported my mother, sisters and brother. But look at my fate now." She touches her begging bowl to check if people have thrown her anything. "My mother, a devadasi herself, dedicated me to Yellamma and left me on the streets to be kicked, beaten and raped. I don't want this goddess any more, just let me die."
"Your orgasm can no longer dictate my oppression"

Trisha Baptie
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Re: India: 'Devadasis are a cursed community'

Postby MGO » Fri Jan 21, 2011 4:56 pm

It is really tragic. :(
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