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Servants of the Goddess: The Modern-Day Devadasis

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4.17  ·  Rating details ·  58 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Servants of the Goddess weaves together the heartbreaking, yet paradoxically life affirming stories of five devadasis - Women, in the clutches of an ancient fertility cult, forced to serve the gods. Catherine Rubin Kermorgant sets out attempting to make a documentary film about the lives of present-day devadasis. Through her, we meet and get to know the devadasi women of K ...more
Paperback, 1st, 408 pages
Published February 24th 2014 by Random House India
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4.17  · 
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 ·  58 ratings  ·  17 reviews


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Ravi Jain
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Full Review: http://www.bookgeeks.in/entries/forei...

Wendy Doniger’s book ‘The Hindus: An Alternative History’ was recently recalled and pulped by Penguin India because it “hurt the feelings of the Hindus.” More specifically, the connections between sex and religion were the main concerns the opponents had about “The Hindus”. I am in the middle of reading it, and it sure is derogatory, but the fact is that Hinduism has had its share of strange and barbaric traditions, practices and customs; Jauh
...more
Paras Abbasi
Jun 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Imagine being dedicated to a temple at the age of 6 years and wearing a beaded necklace for the rest of your life. Imagine being paraded in a procession of singing men and women on a high slab with nothing on your body except Neem leaves as soon as you hit puberty and being ‘deflowered’ when you don’t even know the reality of what just happened to you. Imagine being a mother of two at the age of fifteen (or even less). Imagine never being able to marry because ‘you’re attached to the temple for ...more
Krishnan
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read book. Sensitively written and filled with compassion. Kudos to the author. I have no qualms in recommending this work to everyone.

A must-read book. Sensitively written and filled with compassion. Kudos to the author. I have no qualms in recommending this work to everyone.
Neha Garg (thereadingowl_)
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Devadasi in an ancient tradition practiced in some parts of India where girls are dedicated at an early age to temples and forced into a life of prostitution. They are made to forego any hope of a respectful life or of a healthy family. Some are sold to brothels in Mumbai and South India and contract fatal diseases.
The only time they are acknowledged as human beings is during religious festivals and pujas. Else, their lives are nothing short of living hell.

Being an Indian, i witness the harsh r
...more
MMc
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you want to journey from Paris, France to Kalyana, India, and to fall in love with a group of women you’ve never encountered, this is the book for you. A heart-warming tale of struggle and the versatility of endurance this group of women possess while being thrust into a life of servitude in the most unimaginable conditions. The cause and effect of their lives, cyclical and devastating as they strive to serve their goddess, Yellamma. Catherine Rubin Kermorgant is filming a documentary when sh ...more
Laurie Fisher
Sep 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Incredible story. In the end, I couldn't put it down. I found myself drawn in because the writer made it feel like we were there with her in India, among the Devadasis. We feel what they feel, and though they may seem strange at first, we come to understand their perspective. The material about prostitutes and prostitution in general is fascinating. No clichés here -- The women are not sad, passive victims of male exploitation, but heroines, each in her own way, overcoming unimaginably difficult ...more
Henry Philips
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating. Great story, vividly told. Poignant, yet funny. The author takes us beyond the exotic images of India we know by heart and deep into Indian culture. Though non-fiction, it is never boring. The characters are vividly described. The women come from a very different world, and yet we can easily relate to them. Getting the point-of-view of these "sacred" prostitutes and the tricks they use to ensnare men is a real eye-opener. It's worth visiting the books website to look at the photos o ...more
Vinay Leo
May 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Review at A Bookworm’s Musing: http://wp.me/p2J8yh-2CG

Read this book for a non-fiction that sometimes feels like an incredulous fiction, but one that brings out the troubles Devadasis face in their lives. The book, originally meant to be a documentary, is well researched and though its presentation feels boring at times, it reveals that a tradition or custom we thought was mostly abolished still continues to be practiced silently in some parts of the country.
Michelle Nicolaou
My first non-fiction of the year. A very human introduction to the complexity of the devadasi system. A book that pulls heart strings unapologetically through the landscape that is rural India and the vibrancy of the spectrum that these women feel so rawly. Insightful and methodical in its reflection, Kermogrant does a good anthropological job of approaching subjects of caste and gender, but her importance lies, above all, in her solidarity and human compassion.
Consuelo Murgia
Jun 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm attracted by books with exotic settings and dealing with the lives of oppressed women and this one, about gender and caste relations in India, is surely one of them.
David Skivington
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A very powerful and important book which really delves below the surface into the lives of the Devadasi women of India. Extremely well written raising awareness on a very important issue.
Shrilaxmi
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review-copy
I recieved a free copy of this book from the author.

This book is one I think everyone should read. It talks about the lives of people fallen victim to the Devadasi system. It talks about an ugly reality nobody really wants to face. The majority of people remain ignorant and the people who have caught a glimpse of this dark world behind the rich temples full of grandeur of India, they pretend it doesn't exist. One thing that struck me hard is how much prejudice the commoner harbors even though w
...more
Rich
Apr 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Insightful, eye opening, disturbing, complex and many other adjectives. A swift takedown of Hindu traditionalism and caste, yet questions some knee jerk Western liberal assumptions too. The author wears her feminism a little too much as she seeks to excuse all women, even those who seek to sabotage her project for personal gain, yet fails to give most of the male characters the benefit of the doubt. But I can forgive her this because the system is uncontrovertibly stacked in favour of the male p ...more
Kerry Winthrop
Mar 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly moving work of nonfiction about sacred prostitutes in India. I could hardly put it down. If the writer didn't do such a great job fleshing out the characters and how the system works, I would have had a hard time believing it were true. The character development and the descriptions -- from the sacred prostitutes to the filmmakers to the local politicians are excellent. The plot thickens when the film team arrives and as we move along we go deeper and deeper into the psychology of the ...more
Zach Leatherman
Apr 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This highly readable work embarks on an enchanting adventure to the Indian countryside to shed light on the problems faced by women who are forced to take part in one of the most ancient religious traditions known to man. The journalistic/anthropological point of view combines with fantastic poetic imagery to create a stunning portrait of this distant society and the unique ways it oppresses and gives life. Kermorgant masterfully illustrates the delicate balance that surrounds these (in)auspicio ...more
Noah M.
Dec 03, 2014 rated it really liked it

Catherine Kermorgant's Servants of the Goddess is lush and powerful. It weaves threads of rich history, contemporary commentary, and heartbreaking true stories into a touching and engaging tapestry. The book serves as a document of the author's journey to and within rural India, as well as a testimony of the women who find themselves trapped in an ancient tradition that is as pervasive and complicated as it is devastating. I had never heard of these "servants of the Goddess" (called Devadasis) b

...more
Katie Martin
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
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“With the advent of gramophones and cinema, a few women from devadasi backgrounds, such as Madurai S. Subbulakshmi, Bangalore Nagarathnama and Tanjore Balasaraswati went on to become famous classical performers.” 1 likes
“From which country you have come, from which direction, I do not know. But you understand our sorrows and you are kind to us. - Rukmini (a young devadasi)” 0 likes
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