It is believed that blessings from a transgender will bring you luck and prosperity. On Tuesday, in a unique moment, a transgender blessed India’s first citizen President Ramnath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi during the Padma award ceremony, taking the dignitaries present at the function including Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi by surprise and joy.
It was Karnataka’s transgender woman Matha B. Manjamma Jogathi who greeted President Kovind in her traditional way while receiving the Padma Shri award which has gone viral on social media.
Manjamma was awarded Padma Shri for her contribution to folk dance. More than her gesture at the ceremony, Manjamma’s story is now getting wide attention bringing much pride to the transgender community.
Manjamma’s journey started as a street beggar. She was sexually abused and was on the verge of suicide. From there, she emerged as a dancer and became the first transgender president of Karnataka Jaanapada Academy, a government body for performing arts.
She was born in Karnataka’s Ballari district. Her name was Manjunatha Shetty. She identified herself as a woman at the age of 15. Her parents made her perform a ritual called Jogappa in which devotees get married to a god or goddess. She was not allowed to return home. She was then named Manjamma.
The twist in Manjamma’s life came after a father-son duo discovered her and taught her dance. Kallava Jogathi introduced her Jogathi Nrithyaa, a dance form which she later popularised across Karnataka.