Belgaum: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah may be keen on bringing in a law to ban all kinds of superstitious rituals in the state, but the government is still looking on helplessly as the banned Devadasi system continues to thrive in secret in remote villages. An age-old practice, it inducts girls into the oldest profession in the world in the guise of dedicating them to the service of a deity or temple.
An NGO from Athani which has been instrumental in saving dozens of girls from being drawn into the Devadasi net, say Devadasis are still found in remote areas of Saundatti. “Several innocent girls are made to perform the rituals to become Devadasis in their homes to avoid being caught by the police these days.
The girls’ guardians are given the black bead chains they are supposed to wear in the Kokatnur temple or Saudatti temple and they present them to the priests for sanctifying. Later, the girls are made to wear the chains to become Devadasis,” said one activist.
The secret practice came to light after a 13-year-old girl was found being forced into the profession in Saundatti in March last year. A family from Dharwad district was caught carrying out the rituals involved. Acting on a tip-off, officials of the Devdasi Rehabilitation Project and Department of Women and Child Welfare traced the family in the nick of time . The teen was rescued and shifted to a remand home in Belgaum for rehabilitation.
Investigation revealed she had been brought from Jogyellappur, Dharwad district to Saundatti along with several other women for the ritual.