Sacred prostitution, a sexual ritual containing sexual intercourse or other sexual activity performed within the context of spiritual worship, possibly as a sort of fertility rite or divine marriage (hieros gamos). Some scholars select the terms “sacred sex” or “sacred sexual rites” to “sacred prostitution” in cases where payment for services wasn’t involved.
Sexual rituals have two categories: culture-created, and natural behavior. The human-animal having developed sex rituals from evolutionary natures for reproduction. Then they are integrated into society and expounded to incorporate aspects like marriage rites, dances, etc.

Sometimes sexual rituals are highly formalized and a part of religious activity, as within the cases of Hieros gamos, the hierodule, and the OTO. Hieros gamos or Hierogamy may be a holy marriage that plays out between a god and a goddess, especially when passed during a symbolic ritual where human participants represent the deities.

Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) is an occult initiatory organization that originated at the start of the twentieth century. one of the key features and core teachings of the organization is its practice of sex magic.
In Southern India and also the eastern Indian state of Odisha, devadasi is that the practice of hierodules prostitution. Devdasi includes dedicating pre-pubescent and young adolescent girls from villages in a ritual marriage to an idol or a temple. They then work in the temple and performance as spiritual guides, dancers, and prostitutes servicing male disciples in the temple. Human right reports claim that devadasis are enforced into this service and, a minimum of in some cases, to practice prostitution for upper-caste members.


The devadasis were initially seen as intermediaries who allowed upper-caste men to own connection with the gods. Though they did grow sexual relations with other men, they weren’t looked upon with lust. British rulers criticized the system, resulting in failure in support for the system. Therefore the devadasis were forced into entering prostitution for survival. Many scholars have stated that the Hindu scriptures don’t permit the system.


Various state governments in India passed laws to ban this practice both before India’s independence and more recently. They include the Bombay Devdasi Act, 1934, Devdasi (Prevention of dedication) Madras Act, 1947, Karnataka Devdasi (Prohibition of dedication) Act, 1982, and Andhra Pradesh Devdasi (Prohibition of dedication) Act, 1988. However, the tradition continues in certain regions of India, particularly the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.


In Southern India, a devadasi was a lady who was dedicated to worship and serve a deity or a temple for the remainder of her life. The dedication happened during a Pottukattu ceremony that was somewhat almost like a wedding ceremony. Additionally, to taking care of the temple and performing rites, these women also learned and practiced classical Indian dances like Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, and Odissi. Their social station was high as dance and music were an important part of temple worship. After becoming Devadasis, young women would devote their time to learning religious rites, rituals, and dances. They often had sexual relations with high officials or priests who instructed them in music and dancing.

During the British rule out the Indian subcontinent, kings were the patrons of temples, thus the temple artist groups lost their power. As a result, Devadasi was left without their traditional means of patronage. During colonial times activists worked towards outlawing the Devadasi tradition. Colonial views on Devadasi are hotly disputed by several groups and organizations in India and by world academics. British were unable to differentiate the Devadasi from non-religious street dancers. This led to the socio-economic deprivation and adoption of folk arts.

Sacred prostitution


Recently the Devadasi system has begun to disappear. The Devadasi system was formally outlawed altogether of India in 1988.

According to temple worship rules, or (Agamas), dance and music are the essential elements of daily puja for temple deities. Devadasis were known by various local terms like Basavi in Karnataka, Matangi in Maharashtra, and Kalavati in Goa.

The definite origin of the Devadasi tradition is unidentified. the primary known mention of a Devadasi is to a woman named Amrapali, who was declared nagarvadhu by the king during the time of Buddha. Nagarvadhu (“bride of the city”) was a custom followed in some parts of ancient India. Women competed to win the title of a Nagarvadhu, and it had been not measured a taboo. the foremost beautiful and talented woman was chosen because the Nagarvadhu.

A Nagarvadhu was esteemed sort of a queen or Goddess, people could watch her dance and sing, A Nagarvadhu’s price for one night’s dance was very high, and she was only within the reach of the very rich – the king, the princes, and therefore the lords

Sacred prostitution


Many scholars have noted that the tradition has no basis in scriptures. A.S. Altekar states that “the custom of association of dancing girls with temples is unknown to Jataka literature. it’s not mentioned by Greek writers, and therefore the Arthashastra, which describes intimately the lifetime of Ganik, is silent about it.”

The tradition of dancing girls in temples is claimed to possess well-known during the 3rd century AD. Regard to dancing girls is found within the Meghaduta of Kalidasa, a classical poet and Sanskrit writer of the Gupta Empire. Other sources comprise the works of authors like Xuanzang, a Chinese traveler, and Kalhana, a Kashmiri historian. An article dated to the 11th century suggests that there have been 400 Devadasi attached to the Tanjore temple in South India. Similarly, there have been 500 Devdasi at the Someshwer shrine of Gujarat.


Between the 6th and 13th centuries, Devadasi had a high rank and self-esteem in society and was exceptionally affluent because they were seen as the protectors of music and dance. During this era, royal patrons provided them with gifts of land, property, and jewelry.

The Chola empire reinforced the Devdasi system; in Tamil, Devdasis were referred to as Devar Adigalar, (“Dev” means “Divine” and “Adigalar” “Servants”, i.e. “Servants of the Divine”). Both male and female Devadasi were dedicated to the service of a temple and its deity. The Chola empire developed the tradition of music and dance employed during temple festivals.

Sacred prostitution

Inscriptions indicate that 400 dancers, alongside their gurus and orchestras, were maintained by the Brihadeesvarar temple, Thanjavur. Nattuvanars were the male accompanists of the Devadasis during their performances. The Nattuvanars conducted the orchestra while the Devadasi performed her service. Inscriptions indicate that Nattuvanars taught the Chola princess Kuntavai.

As the Chola empire expanded in wealth and size, more temples were built throughout the country. Soon other emperors started imitating the Chola empire and adopted Devadasi systems of their own.

Also read Niyoga- Sperm donation in ancient India

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