Devadasi in India

Send Joshua Project a photo
of this people group.
Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Devadasi
Country: India
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 24,000
World Population: 24,000
Primary Language: Kannada
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Hindu - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Each year, girls as young as 10 from the Devadasi caste are dedicated to a temple goddess, Uligamma, in a wedding ceremony that begins a lifetime of prostitution. Devadasis believe that when the girl is wed in the temple, the spirit of Uligamma inhabits her for a lifetime.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Actual possessions have been reported, but girls have been known to be set free by Jesus. When Hindu priests and other men sleep with these girls, they believe they are actually sleeping with the goddess herself. The girls are used until they are too sick or too old to be desirable. Then they are expected to fend for themselves as best they can through menial labor or begging on the streets. There are official laws against child prostitution, but traditions die hard, and girls in remote villages don't even know about laws enacted hundreds of miles away.

There are people who greatly profit by this practice that ruins many lives, and they will do whatever they can to keep this lucrative trade in place. It is highly secretive, since most people in India, including most Hindus, disapprove of temple prostitution.

There are ministries like Mission India that help women from the Devadasi caste learn new trades while teaching them the ways of Christ.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Officially these women are Hindu. As you can imagine, they probably have a very negative view of their religious system and the gods they worship.

What Are Their Needs?

Devadasis need to understand the dignity and worth God gives them because they are created in his image. This dignity has been stripped from them by the degrading lifestyle forced on them for generations.

Prayer Points

Pray that these women will be able to overcome the trauma, bitterness, hatred, and fear that they have had to deal with in their past life. Pray that many will live victorious lives in Christ that will draw others to Him. Pray for the Holy Spirit to empower and embolden outreaches to the Devadasis.

Pray that more and more Devadasi women will hear the good news of Jesus and be free and healed to serve Him.

Text Source:   Joshua Project