Prostitutes rebel over mud ritual

Ananova, Aug. 28, 2002

Calcutta prostitutes are rebelling over a custom which sees mud taken from outside their homes to make religious sculptures.

Earth is collected to make idols of the goddess Durga for the Durga Pooja festival.

A body representing over 60,000 sex workers in the state of West Bengal is opposing the ancient tradition for the first time.

The Durbar Mahila Samanvaya Committee claims it is disrespectful and perpetuates the idea that sex workers are society’s lowest strata.

Spokesman Swapna Gain said: “We are not going to be part of such a tradition which is based on the principle that customers come to us and shed all their sins and in turn take away earth signifying piety from outside our doors. We refuse to be treated as society’s dustbins.

“We do not want a day’s glory followed by a year-long treatment as garbage. In this profession we don’t take anyone’s sins, neither are we capable of giving any virtue to anybody.”

The organisation has launched an information campaign to educate the festival organisers, sculptors and prostitutes on the evils of the custom ahead of the Hindu festival in two month’s time.

Mrinal Kanti Dutta, a member of the committee, said: “Though we cannot stop anyone forcefully from procuring earth from anywhere they wish, we will request everyone to give a thought to the custom which was created in an era when sex workers were considered an anathema. That view certainly does not hold anymore.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday August 29, 2002.
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