They are untouchable during the day but touchable by night – this is what “An Activist” says about the plight of the Devadasi in India.
Every year in India, the foundation of prostitution is laid in the name of God and religious traditions. Yes, we are talking about the age-old tradition of keeping a Devadasi, young girls, between the age of 9-12 years, who are committed to a temple priest in the name of being wedded to God. And the reason will astound you! So that the entire lineage can be free from the curse of being born a low-caste, and take rebirth in a high caste family.
Most Devadasi girls belong to lower caste and thus, are ‘untouchable’ for the priests, yet they do not hesitate nor are they ashamed to sleep with them. Some of these innocent girls have not even reached puberty. The priests convince the child’s parents claiming that if they dedicate a young female member of their family to the temple of God, they would be born in a higher caste family in their next life.
Let me narrate the heart rendering stories of little girls being raped and exploited at the hands of our superstitious society.
Devadasi – Durgamma
Durgamma proudly walks toward the Thungabadra River bank for her wedding without a groom. After prayers, the priest sprays a yellowish mix of turmeric paste and water all over her head and she feels the refreshing cool liquid trickling down her head and back. She looks beautiful with her glittering saffron string made of red and white beads. Devadasi should be to God as His willing beloved servant but is left to the dogs disguised as priests.
Bebamma was just 13 when her mother gave her away as a Devdasi. On the night of her “dedication” ceremony, Bebamma had to sleep with a 40-year-old temple priest. She was scared, but she was intoxicated with toddy and hence, she did not know what was happening and felt nothing.
Devadasi – Rina
9 yr old Rina’s dedication ceremony completely mesmerized her. She was being decked with glittering bangles, gold ornaments, and dresses! But little did the naive girl know, that all of this preparation was to be followed by the worst nightmare of her life. She was sent off to the priest of the landlord. One night, she was invited to the landlord’s home and when she went to bed, she found the village landlord there. The devil had no mercy for her and it was all over within seconds. Rina’s entire body ached, but more than her body, her mind was totally devastated.
Devadasi – Kariamma
At age 9, Kariamma was dedicated by her family to become a devadasi. When she reached puberty, she was offered sexually to upper caste patron. Now she is 30 years old and mother to five children. She does not know the fathers but she does know these are her kids.
Though we are living in the 21st century, some people are stuck to the age-old Mughal tradition of keeping Devadasis. It’s preposterous to see such crimes against women still prevailing in India when the whole world is going through a revolution of awareness and change of attitude towards women. Even more pathetic is the fact that women and mothers themselves are willingly and blindly falling for this sham. At a young age when they should be playing and studying, they become a plaything for these high caste priests and the village mukhiyas or landlords. Let’s spread awareness about this horrendous tradition and make our country a better place for women.