IN 2019, THE KINNAR AKHARA, REPRESENTING THE THIRD GENDER, TOOK THEIR FIRST OFFICIAL BATH AT THE KUMBH.
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi is a transgender rights activist and Bharatanatyam dancer in Mumbai, India. She was born in Malti Bai Hospital on 13th Dec 1978 in Thane. Laxmi is a hijra. She is the first transgender person to represent Asia Pacific in the UN in 2008.
Breaking the age-old orthodoxy and religious barriers, “Kinnar Sadhvis” (the eunuchs) made history when they took the holy dip in the “Sangam” at the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj along with other “Akharas”. Dressed in saffron and red sarees, they reached the river banks to take the ritual bath that Hindus believe will rid them of their sins. It was still pitch dark, when the kinnarss at 13 prominent Akharas put up under the temporary tents at the kumbh mela ground, started smearing ash on their bare bodies before they took the first plunge in the Triveni Sangam, the trijunction of 3 holy rivers- Ganga, Yamuna & the now extinct Sarasvati.
Here’s when the tables turned as the perception of the society towards Transgender Community was not hidden from the world. This is termed as “Transphobia” just like “Homophobia” which includes prejudice or discomfort or dislike for transsexual or homophobic people. Have you ever wondered why there is the ‘T’ in LGBT? The T in LGBT has never rested easily with LG because the L&G tend to be gender/sex essentials. The lesbian and gay folk strongly tend to be gender essentialists and because of that, the transgender folk has always and will always feel like it’s meant for a different size of track than the rest of them.
People contradict it with Moral Panic. What about it? This moral panic we see, isn’t really about the gender recognition act, just as those really undignified public discourse around gay marriage wasn’t really about gay marriage; It is nothing but just an excuse for people to vent really ugly homophobia.
It all became acceptable when the Supreme Court of India ruled out Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, in the favour of the LGBTQ Community and allowed Gay Marriage & consummation of Gay Marriage.
“Our long fight for recognition has finally yielded positive results, we are very happy today.”, stated Mahamandeleshwar Laxmi Narain Tripathi, it was more precious to them than the Supreme Court’s verdict.
The Indian Transgender Community is around two million people. This major step taken by kinnar akhara helped set an example for the generations to come and ensured that no one faces the same fate, stigma and discrimination as them. It’s time we stop making it a big deal and start accepting this new revolutionary change. Desperate times calls for desperate measures.