Recognising the unrecognised: Contribution of Devadasis to Indian Literature and Art
Devadasi community is misunderstood and undermined in our society. In the present day scenario their social status had drastically gone down, mainly because of the kind of work they do for living. Since most of them follow prostitution for making a living, the society has prejudiced notion towards them that they are women with no character or morale. They were pioneers in classical dance which we now call as Bharatanatyam. Back then it was called by various names Dasi Kunita (Dance of Devadsai), Sadir etc. during the colonial rule the agitation against Devadasi system was at its peak. All the forerunners of this movement supported the ban of Devadasi dance, which apparently was erotic and was a black mark to Indian art and culture one more reason being that these women (Devadasis) used their art for commercial purpose. Rukmini Devi Arundale a member of Theosophical society wanted to revive this art by leaving behind the erotic gestures/ Mudras it had, and also the songs which were erotic in nature. The dance which was considered low suddenly became an art of international repute. Devadasis were pioneers in carnatic music. Most of them were great scholars during the medieval time.
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