The devadasi lifestyle is outlawed in India, but the practice remains in pockets of the country. Devadasis are temple prostitutes dedicated to a particular god or goddess. They perform sexual favors, and much of the money they earn goes to the temple as a religious offering.
Haida was only seven-years-old when she became a devadasi for the goddess Yellamma. Her family worshipped Yellamma, and Haida’s mother pressured her into religious servitude.
At first, Haida was mesmerized by the devadasi dedication rituals and processions for her. But things quickly grew dark as she realized what was expected of her. When Haida tried to run, her mother stopped her and forced her to stay or risk stoking the goddess’s wrath.
Fear kept Haida enslaved in temple prostitution and stole her childhood. She eventually had two daughters by different men. By the time she was a young adult, Haida was working hard labor outside the temple to earn extra income and support her children.
Haida never had an education and couldn’t read or write, so alternative employment was out of the question. She was terrified that her daughters would be pressured to become devadasis as well. In despair, Haida made plans to take her own life.
But God intervened. Haida’s cousin, Raheema, was a Christian and came to visit Haida on the day she planned to end her life. Raheema told Haida the story of Jesus and His love for her. It was the first time Haida felt a glimmer of hope.
Raheema was also attending an Adult Literacy Class with Mission India just down the street. She invited Haida to join her.
Mission India’s Adult Literacy Classes are vital for women like Haida who have only known degradation and disempowerment.
Erik Morsehead with Mission India says, “One of the greatest things about Adult Literacy Classes is that they, for the first time, get to understand their value — their value in their family, their value in their community, their value to themselves, and ultimately and most importantly, the value that God has put upon them.”
SOURCE: Mission Network News, Lyndsey Koh
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