Sex, Death and the Gods (Part I) by Vibha Shetiya

Vibha I recently re-watched a BBC documentary my students and I had discussed in class last Fall. “Sex, Death and the Gods,” directed by Beeban Kidron, takes a close and rather intimate look at the Devadasi system as currently practiced in Karnataka, a state in southern India. In its ancient form, young girls were dedicated to temples, and their duties included dancing and singing to the deities, a form of worship in itself. Delivering on its provocative title – one that describes how prostitution and sexually-transmitted diseases such as AIDS intersect with the realm of the divine in modern-day India – the film sheds light on how a practice once sanctioned by religion came to offend public sensibilities because of changing mores regarding sexuality, ultimately leading to its being outlawed in twentieth century India.

Despite the ban and denials by government officials, however, the practice continues to exist in some villages…

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