Indian officials pledge crackdown on girls ritual

NewsflarePublished: September 28, 2017
Published: September 28, 2017

District officials of Madurai have moved to curb an ancient annual ritual, in which bare-chested teen and pre-teen girls are worshipped to please a village deity.

The bizarre ritual, which kicked off recently, is believed to bring prosperity to the local villagers.

Girls from several villages come to Yezhaikaatha Amman Temple at Vellalur dressed only in silk skirts and jewels. None of them wear upper garments to cover their chest.

The male temple priest selects seven girls from them to worship the deity over the next 15 days. They live half-naked under his supervision inside temple for 15 days performing various rituals.

A Tamil website Covai Post posted a video showing bare-chested girls aged between 10 to 14 carrying paddy baskets on their heads.

A village elder told the website: “Men from the girls’ families stay on temple premises at night to ensure their safety. In the mornings, women from their families visit them.”

The report sparked off a huge furore prompting District Collector Veera Raghava Rao to set up a committee to probe the ritual.

Though the committee did not find any evidence of sexual abuse or harassment inside the temple, the administration has ordered the temple to make sure the girls covered their bodies.

“We informed the villages that the girls would have to be properly clothed,” Rao said.

Officials said as the festival was culminating they could not do much. But from next year they would ensure that the girls would be properly attired.

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