They practise and preach

Belgaum

They practise and preach

It’s more greed than belief that led poor families of backward classes to accept the practise, which allowed a woman to become a sex worker with ‘social sanction’ and earn daily bread for herself and her family.

Some decades ago, dedicating girls to the system was rampant during the Yallamma temple festival near Soudatti and later these girls were moved to the brothels of Mumbai, Pune and Goa. After the practise was banned, dedication continued but surreptitiously at the festival as well as in the girls’ villages.

A senior devadasi visits the temple and offers a sweet dish (Kadabu) made of wheat and chana dal to the deity Yallamma (Renuka). Inside the sweet dish she keeps “Mutthu” (beads) and the dish is returned to her after touching  it to the deity’s feet.

The senior returns to her village and ties that “Mutthu” to the neck of the girl kept ready by her family members to be dedicated as a Devadasi

Tippamma (name changed), a 32-year-old sex worker at a taluk headquarter in Belgaum district, said she was dedicated to the practise when she was 12, by her parents.
Reason, her father was blind and mother worked as a coolie. Tippamma was the only child and her parents wanted  her to care for them in their old age.

Their selfishness and blind faith in Devadasi system took the upper hand.  Tippamma was dedicated at her home with all formalities by senior devadasis of the village. The parents raised a loan for a feast on the occasion  in 1990. Now she earns her livelihood as a sex worker and looks after her family.

Cop-tormentor

Yallawwa’s (name changed) story is more disturbing. A protector of law himself was responsible for her dedication. During a village fair, Yallawwa was kidnapped by a policeman on duty. He took her to another village, kept her in a house and started living with her. When she became pregnant, he deserted her. On return to her parents, Yallawwa was forced into devadasi system in 1995.

Both Tippamma and Yallawwa also  create awareness about HIV/AIDS.

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