2000yr old Thirukural

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Prostitutes of god

First and foremost devadasis literally translates to servants of devas and not as prostitute of god!. The westerners also called the Geishas of Japan as prostitutes. But the japanese look at it differently
Many systems in India got spoilt and distorted and destroyed once the British arrived. From being the richest country in the 1700s we were reduced to one of the poorest by the time the white man left and we still are taking lessons from them to interpret our own culture? Why is this so.
For those who are keen to explore this subject a bit deeper here is a non-colonial view on devadasis here is some info.
"During the medieval period, they were regarded as a part of the normal establishment of
temples; they occupied a rank next only to priests and their number often reached high
"The devadasi was an artist and was appreciated and respected in the society for her skills. She commanded a respect that even some male
members of the temple establishment could never get. A nun can rarely get any such
respect. A devadasi’s life did not involve a denial of her self. In fact her life was a celebration
of human existence and in particular of her life as a woman. She was proud to be a woman
and perfected her feminine charms through dance and music. Her sexual life was different
from the life of a woman in the traditional patriarchal society. The devadasi family was a
matriarchal society where birth of a son was an occasion for grief and a daughter’s birth was celebrated. This ‘feminist’ society maintained a healthy institutionalized relationship with the mainstream patriarchal society."
The most unfortunate victim of the smear campaign has been the poor woman who has
been portrayed as a prostitute. She was at one time a respected member of the community
and was welcome in every house on even the most auspicious occasions. Suddenly, she
was painted black without any compassion or empathy. She was an artist who kept classical traditions of dance and music alive for centuries. But the so-called social reformers ignored
this aspect of her work and launched a movement asking people to boycott her
performances. These pseudo-reformers destroyed her sources of livelihood and pushed her
into prostitution."
"Devadasi system is not confined to a particular caste. Unlike Jogins, the
Devadasis are not treated as untouchables. The doors of every temple are open to them.
They have, in fact, been honored in the public in the past, and even offered seats alongside
the figures of royalty."
"From now onward the devadasi was considered nitya sumangali, a woman eternally free
from the adversity of widowhood and in that auspicious capacity, she performed for the first
time her ritual and artistic duties in the temple. The puberty ceremonies were an occasion
not only for temple honour but also for community feasting and celebration in which the local elite also participated. The music and dance and public display of the girl was meant to attract patrons."
As nitya sumangali, a woman with the protection of a living husband – the deity and lord of
the temple corporation – the devadasi was provided with the excuse to enter secular society and improve her artistic skills amongst the connoisseurs and their families who were obliged to respect her and treat her with chivalry.

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