‘You mean you knew about being dedicated to the Goddess, but you didn’t know about dhanda.’
Book: Servants of the Goddess-The modern-day Devadasis.
Author: Catherine Rubin Kermorgant
Pages: 396 Rating: ⭐⭐⭐/5
The Author is an Anthropologist who visits India to research and make documentaries on the people, their tradition and way of living. One such documentary co-directed by her is the Servants of the Goddess. Catherine visited India in 2002 to research on Devadasis of Karnataka which she and her colleague Dilip Patil decided to film. This book is a journey of Catherine researching, filming and describing the life of Devadasis and the hurdles faced by her.
The Devadasi tradition was prevalent in Odisha and the Southern states of India. The Author’s field of research was in Karnataka where she witnessed this bizzare tradition of dedicating girls as young as 6-7 years old to the Goddess Yellamma who after the puberty hit ended up as prostitutes either in the village or at the brothels of Goa and Mumbai. This horrifying tale of poverty, prostitution in the name of tradition, exploitation in the name of caste and still trying to find glory in it depicts the compassion and the strength of women to face their fate and their incomparable dedication towards their Goddess.
✍️ Through interviews of Devadasis you can see their plight and pride in the tradition.
✍️ This indeed is a unique topic but there are places where the Author’s journey overshadows the topic and not in a good way. It kind of ruins the essence of the book.
✍️ There were quite a lot of characters who weren’t that well formed.
✍️ The writing style isn’t interesting enough to pull you into the book.
✍️ The writing isn’t organized and you gotta have to search for the moments.
✍️ The Author has definitely put all her soul into the research and writing, but the description of the history of certain traditions hasn’t been described properly.
✍️ At the beginning of each chapter there are extracts from ancient texts and plays which I believe isn’t related to the chapters continued.
✍️ Reading the book would make you feel more like reading a combination of travel diary and research paper.