@chalhov: Yes, I loved the way she kept looking at VS yesterday and not really paying attention to Aditya. She had come to talk to VS, not Adi and she was very clear on that. Nothing Adi said applied for her because he had nothing to do with her. It was only when she realised that VS wasn't going to do anything about the raging stranger before her that she decided to go, though not without feeling slighted. I love this girl's self respect!
@cyrine: I just love how proud she is of her mother, and why shouldn't she be when Gulabiya is the best at what she does, takes care of the entire house and is a good person? Whatever she does, she does it with honour, pride and conviction and I think this is what Sugni should be and is most proud of. I agree, GJ is really wonderful! I love her eyes especially!
Right? I too am loving the paradox of Aditya-Sugni.
As for devadasis, Wikipedia is really good for a general overview but for a deeper understanding of the social complexities system, you should read an article by Amrit Srinivasan, if you by any chance happen to have access to JSTOR. If not, here is a summary I wrote of it which gives a good idea of the ins and outs of the devadasi system.
Reform and Revival: The Devadasi and Her Dance
Article by: Amrit Srinivasan
Economic and Political Weekly
Vol. 20, No. 44 (Nov. 2, 1985), pp. 1869-1876
is summarised below, giving an overview of the temple performers'
community as well as a glance at the reasons for which it could not be
accepted in the context of an ideal, united, moralistic India.
In her article, Reform and Revival: The Devadasi and her Dance, Amrit Srinivasan clarifies the origins of the word devadasi. It is derived from the Tamil word, "tevaradiyal", which translates most accurately to, "at the feet of god". These
women were linked to the temple deity through marriage ceremonies, many
of which closely resembled the ceremonies of Brahmin weddings. Girls
could be married to the deity at a young age, but the union was complete
only when she matured. While being a temple performer was a hereditary
profession, girls could not be committed to the deity if they were not
adequately qualified. A committed devadasi, upon maturity, her marriage to the Lord made official through a ceremony, was considered "nityasumangali", or one who could never be widowed. It
was at this time that she gave her first performance. A patron, who
could later expect her favours, both sexual and emotional, most often
The patron, one of the most important figures in a devadasi's life,
had to meet several exacting specifications: he was expected to be
rich, of a higher caste (preferably Brahmin), the eldest son of the
family and already married. Thus he had to have a strong normative lifestyle to support his extra-conjugal relationship with the temple woman. As devadasis
were married to gods, rather than men, they were not expected to follow
the normative rules of chastity prescribed for women in a domestic
context; they could own land, walk freely in public places, gain
education on par with men, and have relationships with patrons in order
to support their families and the temple. The children born of these
relationships were integrated into the community of temple servants and
could stake no claim to the property or wealth of their fathers. Those
women of the temple community who were not eligible to be pledged to
the deity, married into other, similar families to propagate the growth
of the community.
The temple community was divided into two groups, based on the nature of their performance art and gender: chinnamelam, or sadir,
the graceful, feminine, solo dance performed by women who were
committed to the deity along with their musical accompanists, and periamelam or nagaswaram, instrumental music, played by men. Sadir
was the more popular and lucrative form for the temple as it attracted
more patrons and hence, more funds and donations. This created a
matrilineal system, where the women were the primary breadwinners, and
the men dependent on them. When a man of the
temple-performers' community became independently wealthy, he left his
mother's or sister's home and sought a home and land of his own. Hence
women dominated the household sphere, while men dominated professionally
as gurus, or teachers who were always male and commanded unconditional
devotion and obedience from their pupils. This was ensured by the rule
that aspiring temple performers had to train under a man of a different
family. Thus, members of the same family were at
once teachers to some and students to others, creating an extremely
delicate balance within the community. Marriage between two families was one of the means by which this balance could be strengthened.
social system practiced by a well established though marginal
population did not adhere to the model of either a colonial Christian
morality, or a reformist-nationalist ideal of chaste propriety. The devadasi's
world fell with the shift of royal and noble patronage which began to
see modernization as an empowering discourse and pragmatically sidelined
those elements of the earlier feudal order which it felt were
dispensable. The women, who had previously possessed the right to
education and wealth, were banned from their profession by the Madras Devadasis Prevention of Dedication Act of 1947. They were encouraged to marry, but many, barring special cases like M.S. Subbalakshmi, were unable or unwilling to do so. The tradition of temple performers was changed beyond recognition when the nagaswaram performers
were encouraged to aspire for greater power within the temple in order
to silence their female counterparts, and were given the land,
previously allotted to the devadasis, as incentive to do so. The now disenfranchised devadasis came
to be associated with prostitution, and their situation was politicised
heavily on the grounds of self-respect campaigns. Their art was
conceptually distanced from them and revived in a "purified" format by
middle-class Brahmin women who sought to adapt it to the nationalist
ideal of a united India.
Edited by Samanalyse - 10 May 2012 at 7:25am