“She is given to the temple by her parents just when she reaches her puberty. Scared she is, about the outcome of that event, as she is dressed by her mother. The poor girl, hardly understands the meaning of marriage, let alone marriage with God!” bemoans Mokshamma, a dalit women working with Navjeevana Mahila Okkuta (NJMO), an organization working in North Karnataka (based at Raichur).
It’s estimated that every year more than 1000 young girls in Karnataka are sacrificed in the name of tradition. These girls come from Dalit families, primarily belonging to the lowest strata of the society. The girls are given away often for money, at times to save the cost of dowry and marriage. Often parents seek boy child and when a girl is born instead, she’s sacrificed. The disabled or deceased girls too end up being the victims. On a few occasions, the Gowdas (upper caste) of the village, on suspecting an evil force active in the village, urges (forces) a lower caste family to sacrifice their daughter in service of GOD. Such a girl is known as a ‘Devadasi’, a servant of God.