Saturday, March 31, 2007
Sacred prostitution was widespread in India until late in the 19th century. The devadasis, or 'gods slaves', earned money for the temples which they staffed and were often dedicated to this service as little girls of seven or eight by their families, who acquired spiritual merit by marrying a daughter to the gods as well as ridding themselves of the expense of keeping her(the birth of too many daughters has always been a catastrophe for poor families in India). They were taught the arts of love and were deflowered either by a favoured customer or by the artificial phallus of the god. Temple prostitutes were respected and no stigma was attached to the profession. The temple at Tanjora had 400 dancing girls and those at Conjceram and Madurai were virtually brothels!