Forcibly whipping women in temples?

Women being flogged at a temple (pic: The Hindu)

Women being flogged at a temple (pic: The Hindu)

I learnt today that “evil spirits”, whatever they are, like to reside only in women.  Not in men, and certainly not in male priests.

I learnt that anyone can diagnose at a glance that a woman has “evil spirits” in her.  I wonder how one trains for this, but no diplomas seem to be necessary.

Also, once someone “diagnoses” evil spirits in a woman, those spirits will have to be removed.

Most importantly, apparently, the only way to dislodge the evil spirits is to whip said women multiple times.

The women themselves have no say in any of this, from the “diagnosis” to the “cure”.  They  are flogged against their will.  (What, the very idea! You need permission from an evil spirit-possessed-woman?)

This whole flogging is part of a “festival” and happens, of all places, at a temple. Did I mention that the women are flogged by a male priest?

This practice is not criminal because “It is a belief of devotees and the practice is in vogue for long. We cannot alter [that].” Yes, that was the priest.

More than 2000 women were publicly flogged in a Hindu temple near Namakkal, Tamil Nadu.

In the photo of the incident above, you can see that there were at least two policemen on the scene. One was controlling the crowd. The other was watching (is he grinning or is that a grimace?)

But neither of them seem to have thought it necessary to prevent the proceedings.

Besides, the presence of police seems to imply that they had advance warning? What, really, is the administration doing about this?


16 thoughts on “Forcibly whipping women in temples?

  1. Really outrageous. And the presence of policemen makes it even more loathsome.

    However, if you look closely, there’s a man sitting in the line as well. So before we get high on feminist weed, we might want to discount for selective reporting…

    • You are right, there is a man at the end of that line-up. Or at least, it does look like he is part of the line-up, though the article itself talks about “more than 2000 women” being whipped and does not mention any men. Bad reporting? I wonder – the Hindu is not known for bad reporting. Is the photo misleading then ? I don’t know.

  2. This is has been a ‘tradition’ there for a long time. And its part of the landscape. Not long ago, there were ministers from an administration, who engaged in walking on fire / burying up children etc ! All in the name of God and spirits that cant be seen !

    Sometimes it gets me. Other times, it just leaves me plain sad that such beliefs have stuck on, despite all the changes !

    • I agree with the criminal part, but why bring in the British? Sati was never a widespread practice in India, and Thuggee again can be linked to a breakdown of society under weak kings etc.
      If we are talking about the British, all we need to do is go into their own Dark Ages to see how well they did then…

    • But you see, those teenage kids who were whipped didn’t submit voluntarily because of their faith, they were forced. What we have here is someone citing “beliefs” to have others flogged.

  3. Hi, I arrived here from DesiPundit. This incident makes my blood boil.. well at least initially. But, then, despair creeps in. Administration? Do you really expect them to even care about these things? People? Priests? They just want the tamasha!

    I don’t know how to tackle this problem .. I really don’t! Education? Force? “Religious” reform?

  4. If a person believes that he/she can improve themselves in some manner without hurting another person, shouldn’t he/she be allowed to do that, even if it is through getting themselves whipped, however harebrained that may seem to some others ?

    “A lash here will cure all these ills, physical and mental, that afflict women,” said a 60-year old Chelli, a regular receiver of lashes in the temple for the past decade.
    …who sat in a half-kilometre-long queue for nearly five hours “- from the article.

    Should some others stand in judgement on such people ?

    In some places they pierce their body parts, some people even have hooks pierce their backs and pull them up.

    As to the 12 year old girl quoted in the article, have not any people here been whipped or beaten with a stick in their childhood for not studying enough ? (not justifying such punishment, though)

    The article in that newspaper is not in good spirit, in that it is very selective reporting calculated to project something which is not exactly accurate- that women are being oppressed unjustifiably, whereas the photo itself nails that lie. Moreover, that it is being done against the will of the participants, by quoting one girl, ignoring the quote by the older woman.

    • No, people cannot do whatever they want to in a public place. They cannot whip themselves or others in public, with or without their consent. Nor can they mislead others by talking about the beneficial effects of whipping. (Btw, don’t you find it ironic that 60 yr old Chelli has been getting whipped for the last 10 years and it still doesn’t seem to have cured her ills ? Isn’t she a walking ad for the exact opposite of what she believes?)

      And finally, if you really think it is not justified to “whip or beat with a stick” children, then why do you believe quoting the girl is selective reporting? Clearly, there was atleast one person being forcibly whipped – the girl, who was quoted as saying so.

      • >>>“Btw, don’t you find it ironic that 60 yr old Chelli has been getting whipped for the last 10 years and it still doesn’t seem to have cured her ills ? Isn’t she a walking ad for the exact opposite of what she believes?

        How do you know that she hasn’t experienced any improvement ? that she is as you say, “a walking ad for the exact opposite of what she believes” ?

        Have you spoken to her to understand her and her motivations ?

        You seems to have based your conclusion on what the reporter projected in his report and that is exactly what the reporter had in mind.

        However, when you make such judgement on people, in this case, Chelli, you consider them as incapable of thinking, of logic, of being reponsible, of being able to sort out their affairs, of being capable. Thus you take away a sense of self-respect from them.

        Over one billion people in this world believes that they are born sinners, that one person 2000 years ago suffered on a cross to atone for all their sins. This group includes substantial portion of the population of the so-called ‘developed’- who ‘developed’ by the brutal plundering, enslavement and murder of africans, asians and native americans -countries , including most of their heads of state. It is such people that controls the nations, the nuclear arsenals, the wealth, the lives of billions of others.

        A few indians, such as Chelli, apparently believes that the atonement of their deficiencies lies in their own hands. That they have the capability and responsibility to improve themselves, instead of ‘believing’ that somebody else has to suffer for them and that their condition is birth defect (as believed by those ‘born sinners’).

        This sense of control over their lives is essential for personal improvement, howsoever, a baby step that may be.

        The feeling that their destiny is in their hands, that they can bring about some change in it through their action gives agency to that person and self-respect.

        It is that that the reporter tries to take away from them by not understanding them.

        The world is not black and white. What you perceive may not be what somebody else perceives. There is no reason to think that your perception is the only true one. Consider others also as equally capable as you, even though they may not have the ‘degrees’ that you may have, to take responsibility for their lives.

        However, such considerations would require thinking uninfluenced by the propaganda that media is nowadays sold out on.

        >>>”No, people cannot do whatever they want to in a public place.

        They did not do that in front of your house, did they ?

        Do not take away their right to do what they consider right in their own lands.

        >>>”And finally, if you really think it is not justified to “whip or beat with a stick” children, then why do you believe quoting the girl is selective reporting?

        It is selective reporting because based on one person’s account out of over 2000 people, the report has been coloured.

        If the reporter had objected to including this particular ‘child’ in the ceremony, he may have had a point. Instead, he is using it to caricature and distort the entire proceeding apart from blatantly insinuating that women are being oppressed. That is selective and grossly irresponsible reporting, misleading of readers and misuse of the privilege afforded by public media.


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