Fading Traditions

Fading Traditions

Three programmes investigating ancient traditions and ways of life - two of which have sparked struggles for survival; the third, a campaign for eradication.

Joythi, a devadasi in India

  • Fading Traditions

    • Part One
      The Moroccan halakis' dying art of story-telling
    • Part Two
      Will Georgia lose its 7000-year old wine producing tradition?
    • Part Three
      Temple prostitutes - the clash of ancient and modern culture in India

Part Three: Temple Prostitutes

A group of former devadasis - or Temple Prostitutes - are fighting to eradicate a centuries-old Hindu tradition which turns them into prostitutes.

Originally, devadasi were celibate dancing girls used in temple ceremonies and they entertained members of the ruling class.

But sometime around the 6th Century, the practice of "dedicating" girls to Hindu gods became prevalent in a practise that developed into ritualised prostitution.

The girls are mainly of the lowest class, 'untouchables,' and their fight is the ultimate clash of ancient and modern culture in India.

The prevalence of the devadasi tradition in parts of Southern India, in particular, means that social acceptance of sex work in Karnataka State is common with devastating consequences for the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Hear the heart-wrenching story of Joythi, a young ‘devadasi' or temple prostitute. Joythi, her two small children, and her entire family depend on the income she receives from bestowing her divine gift on her clients.

But the truth is that she is no more than a common prostitute, and as such is in a very dangerous profession.

Award-winning documentary-maker Kati Whitaker travels to the south of India to meet Joythi - and the small group of former devadasis who are trying to persuade her to leave the profession.

Terms of Use

The BBC Podcasts are for your personal non-commercial use only.

All title, ownership rights and intellectual property rights in and to the BBC Podcasts shall remain the property of the BBC or third parties.

You may not edit, alter, adapt or add to the BBC Podcast in any way. The BBC Podcasts are made available by the BBC on an "as is" and "as available" basis and the BBC gives no warranty of any kind in relation to the BBC Podcast.

To the maximum extent permitted by law the BBC will not be liable for any loss or damage which you may suffer as a result of or connected to the download or use of the BBC Podcasts.

See the full BBC Podcast: Standard Licence Terms here.