Religion is a complex phenomenon which pervades a vast range of human activities. In India, religion influences society in diverse ways. This book explores the religious practice of temple dancing which formed an integral part of the ritual service to the Gods and Goddesses in various South Indian states. The culture of dedicating girls to temples is a common phenomenon in this country. These girls are referred to by different names in different parts of India, such as Devadasis, Jogins, Matangis, Basvis, Vaghyamurlis, Bhavins, Mariammas, etc., which literally means “female servant of the deity”.
The present book, which is an empirical study undertaken by the author for more than two decades, from 1985 to 2006, traces the origin and spread of the Devadasi culture in India, particularly the Deccan region, and evaluate the impact of reformative and rehabilitative measures taken by the governmental and non-governmental organizations.
This is perhaps the first-ever comprehensive study of this pernicious practice of women’s exploitation in the name of religion and tradition. No doubt, it will attract wide readership among scholars and practitioners alike.