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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(from the Portuguese balladeira, i.e. ballet-dancer), is a professional dancing and singing girl of India. In the language of India they are called Devadasis, and are divided into various classes. The first live in the temple of Vishnu and Siva; they dance and sing during the solemnities of the worship. Those in the second class are called Natshes, or Natchgirls, and perform the same duties as above, but they do not belong to any particular pagodas. The third class are called. Vestiatris, and those of the fourth Canceoiis. The latter are placed under the care and supervision of an old woman, and are hired outby the latter, single or in greater numbers, in order to. participate in festivities. They are taken from all ranks in life, are chosen for their beauty, and subjected to severe physical training, by which they acquire great variety and facility of motion. Most of these, that assist at the formal services of particular divinities in the temples, likewise serve the passions of the Brahmins so long as their beauty remains. If children are born to them, the girls are brought up to the occupation of their mothers, and the boys are trained to be musicians. They receive a fixed allowance of food and money, to which some classes add the income of an infamous profession. (See DANCE).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Bayadere'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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