India: Ministry to Dalits and Temple Prostitutes (I)

India: Ministry to Dalits and Temple Prostitutes (I)

Chittoor District AP

In the year 2012 God has opened a door for me to embark on a new ministry.

My main task is reaching out to Dalits, gypsy (nomadic) and temple prostitute communities. These people are most rejected ones in society in India. But Jesus called me to this precious ministry to work among the most abandoned. I have started tuition centers in 22 villages in Chittoor district Andhra Pradesh State. We can bring transformation through education. Every evening we conduct free tuition classes in the villages. This is our basic approach: to reach out parents through children.

Our objectives/ aims:

1. Education for Dalit, gypsy (Nomadic) and temple prostitute children

2.Raising a praying generation

3. Bringing community transformation and planting new churches.

Background of the place

Andhra Pradesh is one of the southern states in the subcontinent of India. I am working in Nagalapuram which is a remote town in Chittoor district in Andhra. It is 12 kms away from Uthukottai and geographically located on the border of Tamil Nadu. My ministry is particularly the spreading of the Good News among the temple prostitute communities for transformation. Education being the appropriate tool of transformation, we initiated evening community school in 22 villages to serve these underprivileged children. The livelihood of the agrarian community is none other than agriculture; on the other hand prostitution is the main livelihood for the temple prostitute community. The landless laborers’ daily bread will become a question mark if they are not engaged in daily work.

Rescue work in hostel

Most of the time, the families go to bed with only one meal a day. A great majority of them belong to the Dalits, Schedule tribes and Mathoma (temple prostitute) communities. I was shocked to hear there are a number of temple prostitutes who have committed themselves for their goddess. I visited these villages and felt passionate about sharing God’s love. We can bring real change in the hearts of people. I pray for these communities so that within 3 years of time we can transform this place.

Temple prostitution: it literally means God’s (Dev) female servant (Dasi). According to ancient Indian practice, young pre-pubertal girls are married off, given away in matrimony to God or a local deity of the temple. They serve to sexually satisfy the priests and inmates of the temple, and the Zamindars and other men of money and power, in the villages and towns. Every day girls are being thrown into this vicious system. Such practices need to be uprooted from the core and denounced publicly.

Yuvarani: (mathamma) tying of tali ceremony: They dedicate female children for prostitution and they need to undergo various ceremonies.

Tying of tali ceremony

Story of Yuvarani: At the age of 3 she had a bout of chicken pox. Her parents tried everything to rescue her but could not succeed. So they took her to the mathamma temple and laid her for 3 days in the temple. On 3rd day she got better and her physical health was restored. And they made a vow and named her as mathamma to their goddess. Now she is 9 years of age and studying in 6th class. Her father left them and married another woman. Recently she has undergone Pattadam or the tying of tali ceremony. Through our ministry she now gets education support and continues her education. After meeting her parents and the village elders we have been able rescue her. Now she is in the hostel at B.K.Bedu Nagalapuram, Ap. So there are a number of children named after mathomas (temple prostitute) in the villages. We need to support them and bring transformation in the community.

Fr Jayaraju mhm, AP

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