“If I had to pick one work of non-fiction from among the many I've read over the years, 'Servants of the Goddess: the Modern-day Devadasis' would be an easy choice. Kermorgant has a gift of style that can trump many novelists…. It's a beautiful, informative book, really. Read it.”
- Urmi Chanda Vaz, Karma and Some
Published by Vintage Books / Random House India
Devadasis are women dedicated to the service of a god. Trained from an early age to sing and dance, they are taught that it is their sacred duty to provide sexual services to men. They are often called “the sacred prostitutes of India.” While devadasis are revered as mediums of the gods, they are also reviled as impure. Poverty is the main reason for dedication and they are drawn from the lowest castes. For over a thousand years, devadasis performed devotional dances and dance-dramas inside the temple, but reformers eventually forced them out. Ancient beliefs and economic necessity, however, keep the system alive. While the lives of modern devadasis often resemble those of commercial sex workers, they continue to play a spiritual role in their villages.
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Photo courtesy Völkerkundemuseum
All photos and site © Catherine Rubin Kermorgant