Her plight, her rise!
Yes, she will rise from the ashes of the ugly truths, to rediscover herself.
By Kalpita Sen
She, belonged to a cursed and a regressive system, tousled and tossed in the name of religion; born to poverty-stricken parents, who to unburden themselves of daughters used religion to console their minds and the money earned to run their livelihood. She, used and discarded afterwards, ripped of her fundamental rights and trapped in the spiraling tide of sexual violence. Unfortunately, this bizarre practice persists even today. A pernicious influence on society and the victim of this vicious cycle is called a DEVADASI.
The Devadasi community epitomizes the painful struggle for the bare survival, for living a life predestined and shackled by superstition, clandestinely forcing young Devadasis into a lifetime of sexual exploitation.
We can certainly dream of an uncontaminated future leaving the harrowing past behind. The battle has to be well fought. One has to encourage the Devadasi parents to educate their daughters, to make them more conscious of their rights and dignity. Children should not pay a heavy price for the actions of their ancestors. They embraced a practice that only fetched misery.
But fortunately enough, recent times have seen a change in the mindset of the young Devadasi mothers. With the boon of literacy they were privileged to receive and the little exposure they have to the modern world, these young mothers are fierce to protect their daughters’ future from being tarnished and impaired. They have gathered immense courage to break from the stereotype. We need more such Devadasi mothers to rise up and uplift the spirit of their clan and show them the path to freedom, independence, liberty and the true meaning of existence.
We find repeated references and evidences of the Devadasi practice in ancient to medieval Indian history. In the late 19th Century, several movements heralded aimed at changing/reforming the centuries old practice in the name of God and religion – the so-called reformists and abolitionists. There have been several legislative initiatives undertaken to outlaw the Devadasi practice starting 1934(Bombay Devadasi Protection Act), 1947(Madras Devadasi, Prevention of Dedication Act and finally in 1988 it was outlawed across the nation.
Even though this notorious practice of dedicating daughters to the temple was outlawed in 1988 across the nation, it still remains very much alive and thriving in part of southern India. The repercussions of this system continue to be felt decades after its abolishment.
She will rise from the palpable fear of betrayal, the uncertainty of abandonment to an emotional healing.
On the auspicious day of the Yellamma Devi fair, millions throng to the temple to celebrate. Rituals are conducted as the Goddess is worshipped for her strength and power. Bondage-d by the instincts of practices prevailing since centuries ago, young innocent girls are pledged for service to the deity forever. Daughters or sons of former Devadasis are unaware of the identity of their fathers. These girls are put on a pyre of evil, denial and abuse even before they knew how life’s ought to be and what relations are like.
Each protest against the wrong will be an attempt to declare that humanity stands above everything else. Each opposition against the odds will offer a ray of hope and march towards making the world a better place to thrive for these deprived souls. Rehabilitation for the Devadasi should be a constant focus point and an inherent responsibility for people who care and feel that these girls deserve a better world to live in.
Tightening of the enforcement of law is critical to bring them back from the darkness of ignorance and spreading the awareness in the area of health, education and human rights should be a pledge.
Yes, she will rise from the ashes of the ugly truths, to rediscover herself. She will rise from the silent burden to unveil a respectful future. She will rise from the palpable fear of betrayal, the uncertainty of abandonment to an emotional healing. Yes, she will rise to stand strong, unshaken and determined in the midst of all chaos and turmoil. She will keep fighting for the betterment of her clan. In a myriad of ways she will be able to find a retreat from the rantings of suppression and striding the fence she will rise not to falter again but to redefine her own self!
If those eyes could speak out pain
In a trial of helpless disdain
Rubbled at heart and dressed in a dark glory
Yes She Rises from the ashes of many a lost story
From the dooms of destiny..
Ditched by the blindfolded testimony,
Those tender souls wrapped in an abused skin…
Yes She Rises from the dark with a sun within
With every night-end and every fight won,
Let’s hold her hands tight, the job’s still not done..
Still innocently she smiles, and in her eyes the flames reign!
Yes She Rises to never fall again!!
Kalpita Sen got her Master of Arts degree in English from Rabindra Bharati University. She is passionate about reading and enriching her pass times through dance, acting and exploring this world a little more every single day.