In a bizarre incident, several girls were made to participate bare-chested at a festival in Vellalur in Madurai district of Tamil Nadu for a fortnight as part of a ritual.
As per a report in The Covai Post, girls, dressed up like a goddess with only jewellery to cover their upper bodies, spent around 15 days under the supervision of a male priest inside the temple to please the village deity.
In a video released by The Covai Post, seven minor girls, all bare-chested and aged between 10 and 14 years, were seen carrying paddy baskets on their head, which they offered to the temple priest.
It is to be noted that girls, who have not reached puberty, are only allowed to take part in the tradition of pleasing the village deity.
After the report of the bizarre temple ritual went viral, local authorities stepped in and issued orders that the girls must be allowed to cover their bodies.
Madurai collector K Veera Raghava Rao issued directions to ensure that the girls are not harassed or abused. He, however, made it clear that the ancient old village ritual would not be stopped stating that parents voluntarily send their girls to the temple.
The ritual that takes place annually witnesses scores of adolescent girls dressed up in a similar style with no upper garments to hide their assets, being paraded in front of the Yezhaikaatha Amman Temple at Vellalur.
In the presence of a large number of people, the priest selects seven girls, to be offered in the service of the deity. The selected girls are then made to stay bare-chested for the next 15 days under the priest’s care inside the temple.