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World Transgender Festival

  • Transgenders, Koothandavar, DMK, Tiruchi Siva

    A transgender performing Bharatnatyam at the World Transgender Festival, 2015. Koovagam village in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu saw the convergence of transgenders from across India in this year's edition of the annual koovagam Koothandavar festival celebrations.

  • Transgenders, Koothandavar, DMK, Tiruchi Siva

    A transgender emerges from the Koothandavar temple after her 'marriage' with Aravan. Transgenders believe they are incarnations of mohini, the female form lord Krishna took to fulfil sexual desires of Aravan before he was sacrificed in order to win kurukshetra war. Which is why they transgenders 'marry' Aravan in a ceremony in which the priest ties the holy thread, or thali, to them to solemnise the union.

  • Transgenders, Koothandavar, DMK, Tiruchi Siva

    Transgenders mourning the death of Koothandavar, or Aravan, before removing the thali. The transgenders stay married to the mythological character for one night and make merry with fellow community members. The following day, they remove the thali and mourn Aravan's death.

  • Transgenders, Koothandavar, DMK, Tiruchi Siva

    Priest cutting the thali, or sacred thread, to signify the end of the transgender's marital union with Aravan. By observing this ritual year after year, the transgenders believe that it spiritually cleanses them. Many believe that the presiding deity at the Koovagam temple, a few hundred years old, would bestow all good things of life if they pray to him.

  • Transgenders, Koothandavar, DMK, Tiruchi Siva

    Praveena (centre), who was crowned Miss Koovagam this year. She is flanked by first runner -up, Suji (right) and second runner-up, Harini. The new generation of transgenders want a life of dignity and respect and would like to organize themselves and fight for their rights, says Aruna, a Chennai -based transgender writer. One 23-year-old transgender has even done engineering in Information Technology and wants a job in the IT sector.

  • Transgenders, Koothandavar, DMK, Tiruchi Siva

    DMK Rajya Sabha MP Tiruchi Siva at a thanksgiving meeting organised by transgenders. Siva has been hailed by the community as a savior, as it was through his initiatives that a bill granting special rights and privileges to transgenders was passed in Parliament.

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