Transsexuals participate in a weeklong festival in Tamil Nadu

Villupuram (TN), May 8: Transsexuals from across the country are participating in a weeklong "Koovagam" festival at Villupuram district in Tamil Nadu.

The festival that started on May 3 is held annually at the Koothandavar temple.

The festival draws around 50,000 transsexuals every year.

"This is the third time, I have come to Villupuram. I am very happy to see all the people. Every year we meet all our friends and share all our joys and sorrows," said Mallika Rai, a participant.

Most of the participants said they treated the annual event as a meeting hub.

"I live in Mumbai but I am originally from Madurai. I have studied till class tenth. When I became a transgender my father and mother were worried about me. 15 years back I went to Mumbai and I have been working there as a dancer. I have come here to take part in the "Koovagam" festival at Villupuram.

I got a chance to meet all my friends," said Aishwarya Aiyer.

During this festival two elderly males tie the knot to symbolize warrior king Aravan's wedding to Hindu God Krishna's incarnation as a woman named Mohini.

According to Hindu mythology, Aravan agreed to be sacrificed in war to salvage his family's honour.

His only request before going to battle was that he be given the opportunity to experience one night of marital bliss before going to war.

His brothers searched everywhere, but could not find a woman who would readily accept widowhood.

Finally, Lord Krishna, in the form of a woman, helped Aravan fulfill his desire.

To mark the event, transsexuals come dressed as brides to marry the warrior deity.

On the same day, after getting married they cut their 'mangal sutra' (thread worn by women after marriage) to become widows.

Then they cry and beat their chests, to mourn their widowhood.

After this, they bathe in a water tank and drape themselves in white saris and vow that they would return the following year to make the same sacrifice.

India has some 500,000 transsexuals with Tamil Nadu alone accounting for 30,000. By Jai Kumar

Copyright Asian News International/