Bhubaneshwar, Mar 4 : Ahead of International women's day, female temple dancers in Orissa, who are often referred to as Devadasis (servants of God), lament their plight.
The Devadasis once enjoyed the divine rights of being the better half of Lord Jagannath (Hindu God), but now the apathy of society and government speaks volumes for the pitiable life of a Devadasi.
Today, these women allege that despite devoting their entire life to 'God', they are facing severe hardships.
"We were around fifty Devadasis here. We used to face a lot of problems, both physically and financially. Gradually our role in the rituals of the temple has been minimized," said Sashimani Devadasi.
"There is nobody to look after us. Even the government is not helping us much, we do not get our pensions on time, and whatever little we get, is not enough," said Parasmani Devadasi,
The practice of dedicating young girls to the service of a deity began in ancient India, but over time the custom degenerated into an excuse for their sexual exploitation bymen. Temple caretakers say that the tradition is slowly dying and they fear that the tradition would come to an end soon.
"The age -old tradition of Devadasis is gradually dying. There is no one to help them out. They face severe financial problems," said Debadutta Samant, a scholar.