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Yellamma Temple at Saundatti, Karnataka, India

The temple of Goddess Yellamma (Kannada language: "Mother of the Universe", "mother of all") who is also worshipped in the name of Renuka or Mariamma was built in the 13th century. It is situated atop Yellamagudda about 5 km from Saundatti, 70 km away from Belgaum city. Being a popular pilgrimage site for Shakti devotees, hundreds of pilgrims visit the temple with great devotion every day.
The devotees of Yellamma decorate their foreheads by smearing turmeric and vermilion. As a sign of devotion they often wear cowrie shell necklaces. When visiting the temple many devotees carry metal vessels or bamboo baskets on their heads which contain brass busts of Yellamma being artistically decorated with flower garlands.
For centuries, the devotees of Yellamma, who are mostly Dalits and Bahujans, assemble at the temple twice a year on Magha and Chaitra full moon days for pilgrimage and offer their daughters to make them Devadasis. Devadasi literally means God’s (Dev) female servant (Dasi), where according to the ancient Indian practice, young pre-pubertal girls are ‘married off’, ‘given away’ in matrimony to the God or local religious deity of the temple. These girls are not allowed to marry, as they were supposedly married to the temple. In reality this does not mean temple service but the girls are dedicated to the goddess Yellamma for a lifetime of ritualized prostitution. Despite the governmental ban, Devadasi tradition, one of the most criticized forms of prostitution in India, is still practiced and hundreds of girls are secretly dedicated to Goddess Yellamma every year.
Even today, Devadasis are a common sight in Saundatti. They can easily be recognized, because most of them have matted hair and they all wear necklaces of red and white beads.
Very detailed reports on the devadasi system and the problems of those women can be found here: http://oodegr.co/english/anatolikes/indouismos/devadasis.htm and http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2008/08/04/serving-the-goddess
Yellamma temple at Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Yellamma temple at Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotees have offered green sarees for goddess Yellamma, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India.
Devotees have offered green sarees for goddess Yellamma, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India.
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka,India
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka,India
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres,Yellamma temple,Saundatti,Karnataka, India.
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres,Yellamma temple,Saundatti,Karnataka, India.
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres,Yellamma temple,Saundatti,Karnataka, India.
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres,Yellamma temple,Saundatti,Karnataka, India.
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres,Yellamma temple,Saundatti,Karnataka, India.
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres,Yellamma temple,Saundatti,Karnataka, India.
Banjara woman prostrating in Yellamma temple compound, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Banjara woman prostrating in Yellamma temple compound, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres,Yellamma temple,Saundatti,Karnataka, India.
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres,Yellamma temple,Saundatti,Karnataka, India.
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres,Yellamma temple,Saundatti,Karnataka, India.
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres,Yellamma temple,Saundatti,Karnataka, India.
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres,Yellamma temple,Saundatti,Karnataka, India.
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres,Yellamma temple,Saundatti,Karnataka, India.
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres,Yellamma temple,Saundatti,Karnataka, India.
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres,Yellamma temple,Saundatti,Karnataka, India.
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres,Yellamma temple,Saundatti,Karnataka, India.
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres,Yellamma temple,Saundatti,Karnataka, India.
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres,Yellamma temple,Saundatti,Karnataka, India.
Devotees that have made vows circle round the temple and prostrate every few metres,Yellamma temple,Saundatti,Karnataka, India.
Image of goddess Yellamma , Yellamma temple,  Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Image of goddess Yellamma , Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Brass bust of goddess Yellamma, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Brass bust of goddess Yellamma, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotee carrying a basket containing a brass bust of Yellamma, Yellamma temple,  Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotee carrying a basket containing a brass bust of Yellamma, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotee carrying a basket containing a brass bust of Yellamma, Yellamma temple,  Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotee carrying a basket containing a brass bust of Yellamma, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotee carrying a basket containing a brass bust of Yellamma, Yellamma temple,  Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotee carrying a basket containing a brass bust of Yellamma, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotees with brass bust of goddess Yellamma, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotees with brass bust of goddess Yellamma, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotees with brass bust of goddess Yellamma, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotees with brass bust of goddess Yellamma, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotee with brass bust of goddess Yellamma, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotee with brass bust of goddess Yellamma, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotee with brass bust of goddess Yellamma, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotee with brass bust of goddess Yellamma, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devadasis with red and white beaded necklaces, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devadasis with red and white beaded necklaces, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devadasi with matted hair with a brass bust of goddess Yellamma, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devadasi with matted hair with a brass bust of goddess Yellamma, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devadasi at Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devadasi at Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devadasi at Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devadasi at Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devadasi with matted hair and red and white beaded necklace, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devadasi with matted hair and red and white beaded necklace, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devadasi with matted hair, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devadasi with matted hair, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devadasi with red and white beaded necklace, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devadasi with red and white beaded necklace, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devadasi with matted hair, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devadasi with matted hair, Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotee at Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotee at Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotee at Yellamma temple at Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotee at Yellamma temple at Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotees at Yellamma temple at Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotees at Yellamma temple at Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotees at Yellamma temple at Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotees at Yellamma temple at Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotees and holy cow at Yellamma temple at Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotees and holy cow at Yellamma temple at Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotees collecting holy water and taking a shower at Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Devotees collecting holy water and taking a shower at Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Fortune teller at Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Fortune teller at Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Banjara woman outside Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Banjara woman outside Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Banjara woman outside Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Banjara woman outside Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Banjara women outside Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Banjara women outside Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Bangles for goddess Yellamma who loves green. Yellamma temple at Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Bangles for goddess Yellamma who loves green. Yellamma temple at Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Shop with sarees, powder etc. outside Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Shop with sarees, powder etc. outside Yellamma temple, Saundatti, Karnataka, India
Wooden sculpture of goddess Yellamma with lots of green bangles and green saree at a roadside in Karnataka
Wooden sculpture of goddess Yellamma with lots of green bangles and green saree at a roadside in Karnataka