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Women and ReligionContemporary and Future Challenges in the Global Era$
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Elisabetta Ruspini, Glenda Tibe Bonifacio, and Consuelo Corradi

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781447336358

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447336358.001.0001

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date: 02 June 2020

Divine shadows: Indian Devadasis between religious beliefs and sexual exploitation

Divine shadows: Indian Devadasis between religious beliefs and sexual exploitation

Chapter:
(p.79) Four Divine shadows: Indian Devadasis between religious beliefs and sexual exploitation
Source:
Women and Religion
Author(s):

Manu Sharma

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447336358.003.0005

This chapter explores the origin and growth of the Devadasi system and highlights the present status of Devadasis in Indian society. The term Devadasi is a Sanskrit word, which literally translates to ‘female slave of God’. In contemporary times, for various sociohistorical reasons, the Devadasi tradition appears to have lost its status and is equated synonymously with prostitution and slavery in India. The chapter questions the importance of the religious factor in explaining the logic of the Devadasis' institution. Conversely, the element of caste and socioeconomic background are two fundamental aspects that must be taken into account. These factors, strictly interwoven, contribute to keeping this practice alive.

Keywords:   Devadasi system, Devadasi tradition, Indian society, prostitution, slavery, caste

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