I had heard a little about Devadasi system in northern parts of Karnataka. Often it was in deeper sections of newspapers and was usually about some matters of government policies. Nevertheless I did not know much about the practice. William Dalrymple’s informative story on The New Yorker speaks about the Devadasis of South India, and explores some history and mythology of the tradition. Dalrymple visits some Devadasis and describes their life in the story.
I got a glimpse of the tensions in the devadasi’s life when we arrived in Saundatti. We had gone to a tea shop near the lake, at my suggestion. Devadasis are a common sight in Saundatti, where they often beg in the bazaars on Yellamma’s holy days of Tuesday and Friday. But they don’t usually brave the tea shops on the main street.
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