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June 3, 2011

INDIA: At 88, lone devadasi fasts for Lord Jagannath

BHUBANESWAR, Orissa / The Times of India / June 3, 2011

Photo courtesy: Sarat Mama, Puri

The lone surviving "devadasi" of the Jagannath Temple in Puri, was among the lakhs of married women in Orissa who observed fast on "Sabitri Brata".

Flaunting a new saree, bangles and the vermilion, the 88-year-old Sashimani was possessive about her husband (Lord Jagannath) for whom she observed "Sabitri Brata".

Claiming that she married the Lord at the tender age of seven, Sashimani recalled having already spent 81 years as a devadasi.

Since then she has been living the life of a celibate.

"I did not marry any human being," she said. "Lord Jagannath is my husband. Therefore, I observe Sabitri Brata like other married women ," said a frail Sashimani.

Though the tradition of devadasi was no more in practice in the 12th century shrine, Sashimani used to dance before the Lord on special occasions in the past.

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