Servants of the Goddess


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Girl preparing tufts of neem leaves for the festival. Devadasis prove their devotion to the goddess by walking up the steep mountain flank to the temple wearing only a robe of neem leaves. Before their dedication ceremonies, girls used to be required to run up the hill naked, but the custom has been outlawed. Police keep careful watch, but nude worshipers occasionally slip through the cracks.

All photos and site © Catherine Rubin Kermorgant