Transgenders in India
Hijras are a social group, partly caste but also a religious cult with deep historical significance in Hinduism. They are culturally defined as "neither men nor women" or as men who become women by adopting women's clothing and behavior. Although culturally defined as celibate, hijras engage in widespread prostitution in which their sexually erotic role exists as women with men. Their traditional way of earning a living is by collecting alms, receiving payments for blessing newborn baby's, and serving in the temple of their goddess.
Hijras are a controversial and threatening community in Indian society, their existence disrupts traditional ideas about sex or gender. It is the gender non-conformity of the Hijra that has a major impact on the individual and the hijra community. They are widely discriminated against and, in addition to the lack of gender recognition, there is repression of sexual expression, non-employment and decent housing. In addition, they are exposed to violence and abuse.
n epic story
The history and cultural relationships of the hijras are both rooted in ancient Hinduism, where eunuchs are mentioned in a variety of texts, including the epic Mahabharata, and in Islam, where eunuchs served in the harems of the Mogul rulers. In an epic story from the Mahabharata it was about a struggle between two families that was precisely balanced so that both parties went neither forward nor backward. It was clear that a sacrifice had to be made to upset the balance. One man was sacrificed and he was at peace with that, but he made one condition. He wanted to get married before his death and that his wife would cry for his death. Surprised and confused, the others looked at each other, who would want to marry a man who has only a little life left. After three days of meditation, Krishna decided to make himself available. He transformed himself into a woman and married Rafi. After Rafi's death, Krishna drastically shed his tears. The day that Krishna transformed into a woman is celebrated every year under the hijras with a large festival in Koovagam in southern India where a large group of Hijras meet. They feel divine for one day.
Phanita is 35 years old and from her 20th Hijra. Phanita has its permanent place at the intersection in Kolkata. She doesn't beg, but offers herself for sex. The sexual acts take place in the bushes just next to the road in the park. She is not yet 'helped', and now she is saving for surgery to have her penis removed. Officially this is not legal and therefore all Hijras go to a small hospital in another state. In this small hospital in a small village this operation will not be registered. The costs are approximately 40000 rupees (€ 520).
Chamba works at its regular intersection in Kolkata. She stays all day at this intersection and goes past the cars to beg. Some 2000 rupees can be collected in one day. Hijras that beg are often not dismissed. Many people are somewhat afraid of the divine powers that they possess. You don't want to be cursed by a Hijra. Hijra's will not be satisfied with a few rupees, a 10 rupees note seems to be the minimum.
Deepti has worked himself up to become a guru over the years. She proudly tells that she was born without a penis and therefore considers herself pure Hijra. "God has created me so deliberately those who let their dick take away are not as pure as me." The other Hijras nod unanimously, yes. The four of them are in the 'guru' house. The other 'sub' guru also proudly shows her absence between her legs and then brings out her breasts; "feel, these are real!". She takes my hand and presses them against her chest.
nother epic story
When Lord Ram had to leave Ayodhya for his 14-year exile, a large crowd of his subjects chose to follow him into the deep forest because of their dedication to him. Ram worried about the well-being of his subjects, told them not to grieve. He asked "all men and women" to return to their homes in Ayodhya.
14 years later, when Ram returned to his kingdom, he discovered that all hijras were still in the place where he delivered his speech. Deeply touched by their dedication and aware of the kind of status they enjoyed in society, Lord Ram blessed them; the Hijras could bless people on special occasions, such as childbirth and marriage. But he also gave them the ability to curse.
o be continued...
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