0053 The Last Devadasi
This is Randi Hacker with another Postcard from Abroad from the KU Centers for East Asian Studies and Global and International Studies.
For centuries here in India, women known as devadasi, or servants of a deity, were trained to sing and perform ceremonial dances at the temple. These dances frequently incorporated an erotic element and therefore were almost completely eradicated by the British during colonial time. Almost but not quite. The devadasi tradition endured. But now the very last devadasi of the god Jagannath has died at the age of 92. Sashimani was given, by her mother, also a devadasi, to Jagannath at the age of 3 and, served him, as his bride, for 89 years. The devadasi of Jagganath gave ritual baths, kept his statues oiled and dusted, and, at bedtime, performed private dances just for him. Sashimani did not train a successor. Thus does an era come to an end.
With thanks to Jennifer Duhamel for this text, from the KU Center for East Asian Studies, this is Randi Hacker. Wish you were here.