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Jogini (Devadasi)

Devadasi, or servant of god, as shown by the red-and-white beaded necklace around her neck. Dedicated to the goddess Yellamma.

Girls from poor families of the "untouchable", or lower, caste are "married" to Yellamma as young as four. No longer allowed to marry a mortal, they are expected to bestow their entire lives to the service of the goddess.

'Joginis' have a rich artistic tradition in dance and song used in temple worship, and historically were protected by royal patrons. Today, although 'Joginis' still perform duties in the temple, their life is marked by extreme poverty and forced prostitution.

On two days each week, they will go from door-to-door begging. They mainly receive grains of rice since they mostly visit houses in the 'wada' (Dalit area). Many 'Joginis' engage in casual labour in the fields if it is available, but they only earn paltry wages.

Most 'Joginis' are uneducated, with very many of them being illiterate. Since a father's name is normally required to access places in school, their children may also fail to get an education. Daughters of 'Joginis' will often follow in their mother's footsteps.

"All Jogini's were asking to be treated with respect".

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