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Title:Devadasi system | History of devadasi | தேவதாசி முறை

Devadasi or Devaradiyar means servant of God. These women were dedicated to God and were considered given in marriage to God, meaning that they could therefore not marry any mortal.
The tradition of Devadasi culture can be traced back to as early as the 7th century, particularly in southern parts of India during the reigns of the Cholas, Chelas, and Pandyas. They were well treated and respected, and held a high social status in the society. To become a devadasi a girl has to go through a few samskaras. These are the ritual marriage, branding ceremony, initiation into the performing arts, debut (arangerru), duties, and funereal honours. These rituals transform an “ordinary” girl into an “ever- auspicious female”.

Over time, the tradition started deteriorating, particularly during medieval sultanate, mughal and British periods. With the destruction of large number of temples and loss of patronage, their status in the society degraded leading to their exploitation. Many Devadasis became mistresses of the local royal or noblemen. The children born of such union would be dedicated to the temples. The daughters born from such unions would be dedicated to the temple while the sons would be trained as musicians. This led to the religious prostitution in temples of India which continues till date. Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy fought against the devadasi system. She was the first pioneer in the fight for social and political upliftment of women in India. Due to her efforts Prevention of dedication bill or Devadasi Abolition bill was passed in the Madras Presidency.


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