Magazine article New Internationalist

Anjamma: A Servant of the Gods

Magazine article New Internationalist

Anjamma: A Servant of the Gods

Article excerpt

My mother died when I was three. When I was seven, my brother got polio and was paralyzed. My father had to take out a loan and I went to work rolling bidis (cigarettes) to help pay it back. But it was not enough and the landlord to whom my father owed the money said that he should send me to be dedicated to the goddess to earn more money. I didn't want to go. I felt very bad. My father said: 'If you don't obey me, !will die.'So I went to the temple. All my relatives came. I had a new sari and many jasmine garlands. The priest called a man to tie the wedding tali [necklace] around my neck. The man was Rangasamy and he was 25 years old. I was eight.

Three times a year we joginis used to go to the temple for important festivals. Everyone worshipped us and treated us well. We danced and went into a trance. Everyone fell at our feet and called us goddess. On those days we became very important. The rest of the time they made fun of us.

When I was 12,1 came of age (puberty). Rangasamy kept coming and telling me: 'I tied tali on you, why don't you sleep with me?' I said no. But everyone in the village said: 'Child, you are a jogini. …

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