Karnataka: After 5 month delay, devadasis may soon get their promised pensions

With the Directorate of Social Security and Pensions releasing funds, the devadasis are hopeful pensions will come by next week.

BySaurav Kumar

Published Jul 13, 2022 | 6:34 PMUpdatedJul 26, 2022 | 11:05 AM

TV Rennukamma, a devadasi, claimed that many devadasis are not receiving their monthly pensions since February. 

There is relief in sight for the devadasis of Karnataka, who have been in agitation mode over the non-payment of pensions for over five months.

The Directorate of Social Security and Pensions on Tuesday, 12 July, said it had released ₹12.14 crore to the Karnataka Women Development Corporation for the payment of pending pensions to the former devadasis.

An official from the corporation told South First on condition of anonymity that the pensions would be paid by next week.

The devadasis had threatened to sit on a dharna next month if the Basavaraj Bommai-led Karnataka government did not clear their outstanding monthly pensions.

Karnataka State Devadasi Mahila Vimochana Sangha (KSDMVS) head TV Rennukamma told South First that many devadasis in Davengere, Ballari, and Koppal had not received their pensions — amounting to ₹1,500 per month — since February.

Misery and trauma

Several devadasis told South First that they were facing mental trauma and were in dire financial straits because of the delayed pensions.

“Our lives are becoming miserable. We devadasis are mostly dependent on the monthly pension given by the government,” said 60-year-old Devi Amma.

She added that she had received her last monthly pension in January.

“I am now completely dependent on my son, who is a daily wage labourer,” she added.

“Many devadasis depend on social activists and others for survival since the government stopped giving monthly pensions,” said Rennukamma.

Jayamma, a resident of Davengere, told South First, “I am thankful to my neighbours. I am alive because of them. They provide me food every day.”

Devadasi system

The now-banned devadasi system involved people marrying off their daughters to a deity or a temple even before they reached puberty. The practice was sometimes a cover to push young girls into prostitution.

The Karnataka government banned the practice in the early 1980s. Anyone found practising it is penalised under the Karnataka Devadasi Act of 1982.

The government also announced a pension to help the former devadasis.

According to a survey conducted by Karnataka State Women’s University, there are around 80,000 devadasis in the state.