Hyderabad: Joginis, women dedicated to the service of the deities in Hindu temples in Telangana, will be provided more benefits to enable their rehabilitation. The State government, which has covered a majority of single women in the State, including the 24,273 Joginis under its special pension scheme, is now contemplating a slew of measures to provide Joginis due support and a decent living in the mainstream of society.
Telangana State Social Welfare Board chairperson Ragam Sujatha Yadav said that in addition to the welfare measures which are being already offered to them, Joginis are now being considered for housing under the State sponsored 2 BHK scheme.
The scale of loan assistance being given to them will also be enhanced soon. “We have asked the State government to ensure that the Joginis are provided with all the welfare measures promised to poorer sections in the State.”
“We consider them as the most vulnerable section of society and it is heartening to see that they have been making best use of the assistance given under the schemes and are taking it up with gusto, ” she added.
New strategy sought
Sunitha Krishnan, a member of the National Commission for Women (Telangana) said: “There needs to be more concerted efforts to bring these women back into the mainstream. The State government has to come up with a proper strategy to keep these ills away.”
“To ensure that this practice does not rear its ugly head again, the government must focus on tackling the faiths and beliefs that surround Joginis,” Krishnan said, adding that the State government must address this problem in its totality.
Joginis are girls hailing mostly from Dalit or lower and intermediate castes and are offered as a religious custom, to the mighty temples which centuries ago were centres of social and political power.
They performed tasks, which were in conformity of their status, such as providing company and entertainment to the kings, performing temple rituals, dancing, singing and playing, washing temple idols, artefacts and lamps, plucking flowers, cooking, cleaning the floor and deities and dressing them up.
Sometimes a patron supported one particular Devadasi or the other, while a majority of the Devadasis in temples had become targets of pleasure seekers.