It is a shame to say we still get to see ‘Devadasis’ around us.
It is not a women’s issue alone. Men, women, old people and children suffer from its consequences. Men of the Devadasi community undergo the same degree of disgrace as do the women.
Let me draw the modern world’s attention to the tragic suicide of three young Devadasi boys in and around my village recently. They were silently, unfeelingly tucked into cold statistics of the Crime Record Bureau.
All the three cases were totally ignored by the regional and national media. Low self-esteem, lack of means of livelihood, illiteracy and social stigma are the main factors behind their miserable existence, making them dependent on their women who earn through prostitution and begging. Owing to all these, most of the youngsters carry suicidal tendencies in them.
People from Dalit communities – mostly Madiga and Valmiki castes (two of the most underprivileged in India)- are those who are mostly trapped into this practice.
They are haunted by identity crises. They are the victim of the social beliefs and practises. Even though they killed themselves, the truth is that each one of us are responsible for their death. We are all equal participants in this murder.Relationships in the system have become shallow and exploitative and these don’t last long. The man who keeps the girl will look after the financial needs of the family till he feels like keeping her. The day he disowns the Devadasi, her family is left without any income. The economic hardships have forced these girls and women to take to prostitution and begging for sheer survival.
Apparently, divinity has no role in the perpetuation of such a social system that is morally reprehensible and violates basic human rights. As for male members, they are finding it difficult to survive. Denied any opportunity to work and shamed as ‘bastards’, they feel alienated and become unwelcome within the larger society.
We, our customs, social beliefs, traditions, sense of status and hierarchy, ego, honour, pride and lust caused their death. Is there no end to this crime? Will there be no end to such a system? Are we always going to ill-treat and out caste them in the name of religion and customs? Who is to be punished for their death? Where will these landless people live?
There are lots and lots of questions that remain unanswered. The answers to these questions are within us. My humble effort is to help them find answers and free the society of these issues once and for all.
The question that seeks answer from the modern man is: “Do gods have any role in this man-made tradition?” In the name of humanity, it is time we uprooted this tradition and eradicate from the face of earth.
Part 2 of 5 To be Continued…