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Reclaiming What Belongs To Them With Ram’s Blessings

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Reclaiming What Belongs To Them With Ram’s Blessings

Head of Kinnar Akhada tells how the transgender community got its legitimacy in 2018, with of course, Ram’s blessings

Resplendent: An Indian artist dressed as Sita for a staging of Ramleela in Allahabad, 2018 Photo: Getty Images

In the Sundar Kaand of the Ramayana, there is a story that has given the transgender community in India its identity. When Ram was leaving for his 14-year-long exile, all the creatures of the kingdom came to bid him farewell. They were teary-eyed to see their beloved prince leave and eager to follow him till the end. But when Ram found out their intent, he asked every nar, nari, pashu and pakshi to return home. But he did not mention us, the kinnars (transgenders). We were neither nar nor nari. So we stayed on in the forest for 14 years, waiting for Ram’s return.

When he returned and found us still waiting for him, he was so moved by our faith that he blessed us with the power to bring good luck, and also to curse. Even today, kinnars are invited to auspicious occasions like weddings and childbirths, to bring good luck.

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