Devadasi women circa 1900.

Despite several court orders to abolish it, there are still a few states in India which continue to practice the Devadasi tradition, which dates back to the 6th century. Devadasi is translated as the feminine form of “slave of god”. Within the tradition, young girls are dedicated and married to the temple deity, Yellamma, before they reach puberty. It is the religious belief that the goddess will be pleased and will bless the family with fortune and prosperity. The girls, known as Devadasis, never marry mortal men. Our partner in India recently submitted a project application to help 30 women caught in the Devadasi lifestyle.

Devadasis usually reside right on the temple grounds, cleaning and caring for the temple. They are known as “dancing
girls” who subsist by providing music and dancing at religious services. They financially support the temple by begging door to door every Tuesday and Friday soliciting prostitution. Due to COVID restrictions, the Devadasis have become particularly vulnerable with no ability to earn any money. They and their children (who have resulted from the prostitution) are illiterate, poor, and perpetually trapped in this lifestyle.

This SowHope project will teach literacy and business skills training so the women can become economically independent from the temple. The project will also provide emotional and legal support to help the women overcome the stigma attached to being a Devadasi and to restore their confidence and dignity. Please consider giving generously to this important project.