History of India has a variety of things we must know about and one of them is prostitution.  People used to worship temple ‘goddesses’ despite the fact they were prostitutes. How often do we find the words ‘sacred’ and ‘prostitution’ used together? Not much often honestly.

Well, there are many more ‘did-you-knows’ associated with Sacred Prostitution practiced in the medieval era and here’s all about it:

  1. What exactly is sacred prostitution: It is basically a sexual ritual which includes sexual intercourse performed in the name of religion or religious worship. Some scholars prefer the term ‘sacred sex’ in cases where a payment for services was not involved

Sacred prostitution

2. There are 2 types of sacred prostitutes: Tradition distinguished sacred prostitution into two major parts – (i) those who would work lifelong as sacred prostitutes and (ii) temporary prostitutes who were unmarried girls

Sacred prostitutes

3. How it all began: According to many scholars, it is believed that the culture of sacred prostitution was first established between the King of a Sumerian city state and the High Priesteness of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, welfare and fertility

Sacred prostitution

4. Practicing Sacred Prostituion In India: Discovering it’s traces in ancient India, women all around the city used to participate to win the title of ‘bride of the city’ ornagarvadhu and the most beautiful amongst all was chosen by the kings and was worshipped as a goddess. With this, she could charge an extremely high price for a night’s dance, from kings and lords

Sacred prostitution

5. Sacred prostitution is also excercised in Nepal: Deukiwhich is a traditional custom practiced in most parts of Nepal includes bringing young girls to the local temple and then making them serve as prostitutes. The system is similar to the devadasi tradition in India. However, the practice is declining now

Sacred prostitution

6. This practice has its impressions in Hinduism too: Maithunais a Sanskrit word which means tanta (sexual union), which is the main part of tantra – known as panchmakaramahabuta, and tattva chakraMaithuna refers to the divine union of male and female; the woman becomes shakti and the man becomes shiva. In Hinduism, the union is carnal and sinful unless a spiritual transformation occurs

Sacred prostitution

7. Sacred Prostitution in ancient Greece: The city of Corinth in ancient Greece saw a majority of sacred prostitution trend settling in. In Corinth, the temple of Aphrodite employed a large number of female servants and they were used as prostitutes in the sacred court.

Sacred prostitution

Thoughts like ‘ugly customs’ and illegal acts might come in your mind but this is what holds the history about prostitution once being a sacred job.