Goa, an idyllic state on the West coast of India is dotted with Hindu temples that were created in the ancient times by the village communities popularly known as Gãonkaris. The primacy of the Mother Goddess in the ritual worship is a clear indication that the local community was following the Fertility Cult. The belief in this theory is accentuated by the existence of numerous temples dedicated to the Father God worshipped in the form of Linga, the phallic symbol. In the olden times the Gãonkaris managed these temples. Subsequently, control of these key cultural symbols was monopolized by the higher castes, which enabled them to perpetuate caste and gender discrimination. The immense wealth of these temples and their recalcitrant attitude towards the colonial masters drove the Portuguese to clamp government control on these temples by passing the Regulamento das Mazania in 1886, which no doubt, regularized their administration but failed to touch upon the discriminatory practices followed by the traditional temple managers. This paper is an attempt to analyze the factors that permitted these temples to be the avenues of exploitation and abuse of the weaker sex in the name of religion. The rigidity, with which they control the gender systems in the local society even in the modern times, is indeed a perplexing issue!
Padmaja Vijay Kamat, PES Shri Ravi Sitaram Naik College of Arts & Science, India
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