[WSF-Discuss] Devadasi Braves Opposition, Gets Married

Umakant uk4in at yahoo.co.in
Mon May 5 02:26:35 CDT 2014

Devadasi braves opposition, gets married
F Kattimani, TNN | May 5, 2014, 02.06 AM IST 
Sumangala, who was forced to become a Devadasi by her mother eight years ago,
married her live-in partner of seven years and the father of her three
daughters. She braved stiff opposition, including from her mother, to marry
Venu alias M Venugopal on Saturday. He is a daily-wage worker in Malavi village
of Bellary district.

Sumangala, 35, is one of the many victims of the age-old Devadasi system. The
decision to marry arose when Sumangala wanted to register her elder daughter's
name to avail of the Bhagyalakshmi scheme and was asked to name her father. As
her children from Venu were born out of wedlock, Sumangala decided to formalize
her relationship with him and secure her children's future.

Venu reciprocated her wishes, but their families proved to be a hurdle. While
Venu had been disowned by his people for living with her, Sumangala's mother,
also a Devadasi, refused to give her consent for marriage. But this
strengthened Sumangala's resolve. She approached the Devadasi Mahileyara
Vimochana Karnataka, an NGO working against the Devadasi system and helping to
rehabilitate women trapped in the system.

A simple ceremony was held at Ambedkar Bhavan in Hagaribommanahalli. People
from different walks of life attended the wedding and blessed the couple.

Though the government banned the Devadasi system by implementing Karnataka Devadasis
(Prohibition of Dedication) Act in 1982, the custom is followed on the sly in many
parts of the state.

Venu said when he began visiting Sumangala's house, he faced opposition from
villagers, relatives and friends. "Our relationship turned to love. I was
thrown out of my house for staying with her. As I loved her deeply, I accepted
Sumangala's proposal to marry her," he said.

While their marriage is set to be registered soon, Venu hopes to have their own
house: "I request the government to give me land in my village where I can
live in at least a thatched hut with my wife and children."

B Mallamma, president of Devadasi Vimochana that facilitated their wedding,
said they won Sumangala's approval after persuasion.

“I don't want to be known as a Devadasi anymore; I want to fight this evil
practice. I want to secure the future of my three daughters and remove the
stigma of being a Devadasi”.- H

My final words of advice to you are educate, agitate and organize; have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can lose our battle. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is in the fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social in it. For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is battle for freedom. It is the battle of reclamation of human personality. 
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