We, Maria Joseph and Malavika Nair have chosen to review the documentary titled Prostitutes of God produced and hosted by Sarris as it throws light on one of the scariest practices performed in Hinduism in the name of god- THE DEVADASI SYSTEM. Devadasi- Servant of God is a young girl child dedicated to worship and service a deity or temple for the rest of her life. It’s a prominent ritual performed mostly in the southern parts of Karnataka. In Saundatti, a small temple town of Karnataka , young girls are secretly presented to Yellamma- The Goddess of fertility. This ritual has taken a different turn in the present scenario where the pre pubertal girls are being sexually exploited in the pretext of this ritual.
In the documentary Prostitutes of God, Sarah Harris elucidates the significance of being a Devadasi in the twenty first century. She focuses on the remote villages of Karnataka to reveal the dreadful truths of the system, which people derogated in time as a mode of religious prostitution. Although the practice was outlawed about 20 years ago, it still prevails in various regions of India and there are more than 20000 women forced to do prostitution .Their intimate exploration into the life of the Devadasi reveals a pseudo-religious system that exploits poverty-stricken families to fuel modern India’s booming sex trade. They meet a group of sex workers while travelling deep into the outskirts of Karnataka named Saundatti who vend their bodies for earning a live hood. They exploits the religious icon Yellamma as a justification for conducting prostitution. During the journey she meets Anitha a sex worker who has transformed her house into a brothel and finds no mistake in the practice because she found it as a means to earn money and fulfill her small dreams of building a house, purchasing utensils and T.V.As they cross the border onto Karnataka into the heartlands of the ancient devadasi tradition they come across two teenage devadasi’s Mala and Belawa who was denied education. They are restricted to go for any other work and although they wish to go they nauseated by the disgusting looks they have to encounter. The poorest families find the system as coping strategy to transform a female child from liability to asset as she would be taken over by Landlords who assures a certain amount of regular income .Most of the women consider it as their responsibility to take care of the family and she does not mind starving as her only concern is to feed the family. Becoming a devadasi is the only means to earn money although they feel unhappy their find happiness in taking care of the family.
Finally they attend the annual full moon festival, the most prestigious event in devadasi calendar. The colourful celebrations conceals the underlying secret of sex trafficking. Sitavva an ex-sex worker agreed for a mock demonstration of the dedication ceremony. The documentary ends by the reflection of two older devadasi women who ask the question: what kind of religion turns parents into pimps and their children into prostitutes.
Both of us decided to chose this documentary as it discusses about one of the most relevant issues faced in India .It unveils the mysteries of rural India, the impediments and predicaments if the downtrodden women. Thus we aim to popularize this documentary thus providing an insight to the society about the dreadful ritual which pertains in the society even now.
- Maria 1313120 (1st CEP)
Malavika 1313119 (1st CEP)