The transgender community has historically faced grievous discrimination within society. Often shunned, they are kept away from the customs and rituals of the mainstream society. However, there are some festivals and rituals which are incomplete without their participation. A story from a remote village in Tamil Nadu sets an example for all of us.
Situated in Koovagam village of Tamil Nadu, Koothandavar Temple hosts the Koothandavar festival every year, where hundreds of transgender gather to take part in the function which lasts for about 15 days.
The festival takes place at the Koothandavar Temple dedicated to Aravan (Koothandavar). As part of the customs, the participants marry the Lord Koothandavar, and reenact an ancient myth of Lord Vishnu/Krishna who married him after taking a form of a woman called Mohini. The next day, the reenactment continues as they mourn the god Koothandavar's death through ritualistic dances and by breaking their bangles. The festival also witnesses an annual beauty peagant and other competitions.
Over the years the number of participating transgenders is decreasing because of the expenses that are incurred during the journey and stay at the village. Also, according to the transgender welfare association, the community these days is busy involved in free job training offered to them by their respective organizations.
It's high time that discrimination towards transgenders should be stopped and such rituals be promoted across the country.
Feature image source- Google image