Rather, she was bound, by the dedication ritual and the villagers firm belief in her supernatural powers, to the temple.The only time of year she was considered anything more than a common prostitute was during religious festivals, when she performed trance dances as a divine medium through which the goddess Yellamma spoke.But the majority of her nearly three decades of servitude was marked by violence, and disrespect.
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Though she relishes being free from sexual bondage, she struggles to survive on her own with no home, no land and a debt-burden of 200,000 rupees (about 3,300 dollars), which she borrowed from a local moneylender.
Visibly undernourished, Poshani represents the condition that most mid-life joginis find themselves in: sexually exploited, trapped in poverty, sick and lonely.
A cultural tradition or a caste-based system of exploitation?
According to official records, there are an estimated 30,000 joginis also known as devdasis or matammas in Telangana today.
Squatting on the floor amidst piles of tobacco and tree leaves that she expertly transforms into beedis, a local cigarette, she tells IPS, I feel dizzy. But no other jobs are open to her in the village of Vellpoor, located in the Nizamabad region of the southern Indian state of Telangana, because Poshani is no ordinary woman.
She is a former jogini, which translates loosely as a temple slave, one of thousands of young Dalit girls who are dedicated at a very young age to the village deity named Yellamma, based on the belief that their presence in the local temple will ward off evil spirits and usher in prosperity for all.
Poshani says she was just five years old when she went through the dedication ritual.
First she was bathed, dressed like a bride, and taken to the temple where a priest tied a thali (a sacred thread symbolising marriage) around her neck.
She was then brought outside where crowds of villagers were gathered, held up to their scrutiny and proclaimed the new jogini.