Music for a Goddess
a film by Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy and Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy
English. 72 minutes
This narrated film explores the sacred music, dance and rituals of devidasis and devidasas, women and men dedicated to the goddess Renuka/Yellamma. Worshipped by millions of devotees in the border regions of southern Maharashtra, northern Karnataka, and adjacent areas of India, this fertility goddess is best known through media representations and social activism protesting practices linked to sexuality and prostitution. Her musical and social traditions have parallels in the devadasi (women dedicated to male deities) system in Tamil Nadu before its reform and classicization in the early twentieth century. The film attempts to balance the typically negative representations of the tradition, which tend to focus on controversial practices and to exclude the unique musical forms essential to the worship of the goddess Renuka/Yellamma.
Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy (B.A. Vassar College 1970; M.M. Yale University 1972; Ph.D. Brown University 1980), teaches at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music. In the Department of Ethnomusicology. Her courses concern the classical and non-classical musics of South and Southeast Asians and Asian-Americans, field methodology, ethnographic film, music and the sacred, and applied/public sector ethnomusicology, and music of Bollywood. She is an affiliated faculty at the University of Visual and Performing Arts, Sri Lanka.
Dasis of Yellamma
a film by Suresh Chavan
Marathi with English subtitles. 37 minutes
India has a rich cultural heritage where various religions and raditions are practiced. Some practices are followed blindly due to illiteracy and blind belief in god. One such practice is the Devdasi system where girls and boys are dedicated to the goddess Yellamma. They cannot marry or have a family life. This documentary is a humble effort to bring to light the sufferings of these exploited people through visuals and interviews. The film depicts the Yellamma fair at Saundatti in Karnataka. Devadasis, Jogtas and other people who worship this goddess visit the fair.
The films will be followed by a short discussion with the film makers who will both be present at the screening.