Devdasis : The Gods Wife
Whoever wants to become a proponent of God has to submit themselves. You might have heard this excerpt a lot of times from your elders. To connect with spirituality, you have to devote yourself to the feet of God.
Today we are going to read about one popular muggy practice known as "Devdasi". Women or young girls who were wedded to gods or deities are referred to as devadasis. Basic in Karnataka, Matangi in Maharashtra, and galavanting in Goa and Damon were all words used to describe Devadasis.
The Devadasis were nothing but beautiful girls who were married off at a young age to Gods to take care of the temples and people coming into the temple. They were dancers who used to perform at courts and temples and spread spirituality.
Devadasis used to hold higher status, and people also treated them as goddesses. If we go back to history, the practice commenced in the 3rd century in the southern (Chola Dynasty) and eastern (Keshari Dynasty) parts of India. The kingdom used to employ such young girls and make them Devadasis. They have to follow the abstinence tradition.
However, with the change in the era, the devdasis went through many changes. According to historians, they found similar stories in Jakarta, where Amrapali the courtesan has a similar role. However, she was known as Nagarvadu, and she used to enjoy higher status and awards from kings. Also, she has the right to choose a male and have multiple relationships.
After the arrival of the Mughal dynasty and the Britishers, they not only mistreated the Devdasi but made them prostitutes as they thought these were foolish traditions. After that, in 1988, the Bombay Madrass presidency abolished this act.
However, there are many rumours that girls used to become victims of sexual harassment by temple priests. The young girls were forced into this practise because their parents were economically weak, and in those days, a girl was seen as a debt.
The practice of Devadasis is still going on in the southern part of India. But today, they have become sex slaves to live in this world. Even those girls who became devadasis at a young age are now widows. Anyone can use them in the name of Devadasis, as there is no human god to contend that they are married. It's just their ingenuity to say that they are married to God.
In India, between 44,000 and 2,50,000 Devadasis were discovered by the National Commission for Women in 2006. Karnataka had the most of them, followed by Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. "These are the only official data for the number of Devadasis in the country as of yet," Mohansingh explained.
Even though the Devadasi system is illicit in some southern states, it continues to breathe. For example, the Karnataka Devadasis (Prohibition of Dedication) Act, 1982 makes it illegal to devote girls to temples and provides Devadasis with the legal right to marry.
However, the irony is that the women in the past who were devadasis even after getting such freedoms couldn't marry. First, they are seen as prostitutes in society now, and second, the devadasis have aged. The tragic part is how Indian practice, which might have started up as genuine and inspiring, but after the Mughals, everything went up and down.