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Kalinga Literary Festival, British Council Come Together For 5 Films for Freedom' In Bhubaneswar

By Anuj Cariappa
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New Delhi/Bhubaneswar, Mar 29: Kalinga Literary Festival and British Council, India hosted 'Five Films For Freedom' in Bhubaneswar on 28th March. The event was held at Oxford Bookstore, Bhubaneswar at Symphony Mall. The purpose of the event was centred on the social stigmas, psychological loopholes, norms regarding LGBTQ community. Dignitaries like Anu Choudhury (Leading actress of Odia film industry, Social Activist), Meera Parida (Odisha's First Transgender Politician, Member of the National Council for Transgender Persons, President of All Odisha Kinnar Mahasangha), Sadhana Mishra (First in Odisha to get passport in transgender category, Social Activist, TV Anchor), and Sahdev Sahoo (Writer and administrator) were present.

Kalinga Literary Festival And British Council Come Together For Five Films For Freedom In Bhubaneswar

The inauguration of the event was observed by Rashmi Ranjan Parida (Founder & Director of Kalinga Literary Festival), Debashish Samantaray (Convenor and co-director of Kalinga Literary Festival), Prachee Naik (Co-founder and co-director of Kalinga Literary Festival), Eklavya Mahapatra (Director, Symphony Mall, Bhubaneswar), Jagdish Behera (Managing Head, Oxford Bookstore, Bhubaneswar) followed by the felicitation of guests.

Mahua Banerjee (Art Manager, East India, British Council) conveyed a congratulatory message on behalf of British Council.

Debasish Samantray (convenor and Co-director of KLF) presided over the meeting. He started off with presenting gratitude to the dignitaries and British Council.

The session discussion on 'LGBTQ: MAINSTREAMING THE MARGINALISED' started with Sahadev Sahoo (moderator) beginning with a story, "Before Mahabharat, a bali has to be given to Judha devi. Krishna, Arjuna and Aravana. Aravana gave condition: "I want to marry a woman who would cry on my demise." Krishna turned into Mohini and married him. Aravana died and Mohini cried in grief.

Just like that Shikhandi, Brihannala, have been mentioned. In Sultanate, Transgenders were responsible and posted near the queens. They had direct access to the Kings and Queens. Britishers gave them designation in society.

15th April, 2014, Indian Govt recognised Transgender as the 3rd gender."

He asked, to Meera Parida about her opinion about the legal sanction made by Govt in 2014, to which she replied, "The movement of transgender has taken fire all over the country. Odisha has taken a step forward in terms of culture, education. We need to understand a society is stigmatized if they are not educated about a certain section of society.

I feel Shikhandi's pratigya was the bigger pratigya, who was born trans. Brihannala also saved Pandavas from death. Our section has dedicated services to the society. During Mughals, if there are 5 boys in a family, 1 was turned into transgender, else person was turned unok.

During 200 years of British rule, the transgender society was unfortunately not given the respect it deserved. Our fight in freedom struggle was never registered in the Literature or History.

There was no equality or rights during those days. They hid their identities and stayed in Hijra pacs. A lot of rules were forced in us that were relieved along with time.

Kalinga Literary Festival And British Council Come Together For Five Films For Freedom In Bhubaneswar

I voice my concerns why our regulations were not concerned during IPC and constitution creation. Our section was looked down. If it's mentioned every section in society is equal, then why is there such a massive social disparity. We've mentioned in sustainable development, gender equality. If we're the 3rd gender, who's the 1st and 2nd gender. Whys there inequality at such a high level."

Sahadev further says, "In 2014, Govt declared 3rd gender. In Kerala, There was a survey in 2016, 90% trans tried to commit suicide, 58% dropped out due to harassment. They were sexually abused. 10% only revealed their identity. We have our rule in place, then how can it be accepted by the society. Only the rules are not sufficient."

To this Anu Choudhury replies, "Base of every aspect has a mindset and home. A child takes birth in home. His first teacher is his mom, then the family and society. Mom's mindset is his biggest nutrition and lesson. Nature has been teaching us all this while.

From a survey in 2020, when people stayed home, people had unrest that led to increase in crime. If I felt there are changes, one must reach out to Parents and family.when we undergo hormonal changes, no one discusses openly. We're never indifferent from nature. God made us, who are we to differentiate. It's about how better we council them, how better we educate their parents.

Suicide only occurs when there is mental harassment, apart from physical harassment. We need to hold hands together as a society and empower the suppressed.

Film is a reflection of society. There will be work on this in future as well. If I get an opportunity like this, let's join our hands for the change."

Sahadev goes on with, "When we refer to trans man and trans women, this feeling of different sexual orientation, happens in 11 age. Parents should understand them at this point. From my interviews, students get harassed by teachers in the class. The LGBT section have no organization, they fight as individuals. What do we do to empower them and provide shelters to them."

Sadhana Mishra says, "This is the 1st platform to discuss in odisha and we're proud to be a part of this program. Sexuality and sexual orientation is not fixed between 5 to 10. At age 5, boys play female games, so don't recognize our sexuality. People recognize me as Maichiya in odisha or as Chakka. I've been hearing that all my life. This is the time we all need support. All families should have oriented and sensitized about it. In our curriculum, there's no counselling and no space for Transgender section. When children come to school, they are harassed due to lack of orientation.

There was no education about good touch or bad touch. But it has happened to me, I've been harassed. During Adolescence, sexual orientation comes to children. If the kid is a transgender, he's unaware about it due to lack of counselling. As a transgender I am a male physiologically, but I'm a female in terms of psychology and mindset.

In religious literature, there is a safe culture called hijra culture. Concepts are coined in terms of bisexual, heterosexual.

In Odisha, it is a big challenge. When we started SAKHA, the LGBT rights association in Odisha, people were hesitant to talk about the issues. This is a 7 color association. We came to road in 2004 and declared as Transgender . We had a documentary in Subha kahani in OTV. There was a lot of controversy. In Odisha there should not be stigma.

There is no difference in acceptance. It's always dependent on mindset of people. It's only possible when every individual's mindset changes. That's how LGBT community will be recognized. I am a human being. Let's spread love and respect to each other.

Most interesting thought is, Me and Meera were really excited to go to White House. But it was a massive challenge to get their, in terms of Visas and security check by men in airports. Trans people extend their services to every sector in the society.

A kid called me in Bermunda bus stand. Mom and Dad hit her really bad and harassed really bad. She was 18 years old. I counselled the family members. It's all about positive thoughts and changes in mind."

Kalinga Literary Festival And British Council Come Together For Five Films For Freedom In Bhubaneswar

Anu Choudhury adds, "We discuss about this a lot. But we forget when we move out. An individual realized it at a certain age. The parents should be responsible to have this conversation. They shouldn't take it as a curse from early lives.

When a kid goes through changes, he should reach out to parents. Let's build a community called humanity where we have a heart and in that we have a soul. If a torturous event happenz, there's no issue in communicating it openly. If we feel the parents are segregating the kid, we'll council the parents and the kid. We have a heart within and use it well to spread love. There's no shame.

Finest make-up up artists come from this section."

Putting a remark on parenting, Sahadev Sahoo says, "How can families be educated ( through films, literature)? Same sex marriage is yet to be legal even in 377. Is that the next step?"

The response comes from Meera Parida who says, "Transgender and Hijra are completely different. Trans have a culture like staying together, Guru-Chela, giving blessings in events. For the LGB identity and shelter, govt is about to start Garima gruha for those LGB who feel left out and give them education and medical facilities

When IPC 377, sexual minority is always pointed out. If supreme court decriminalized IPC 376 violation, and segregates us as 3rd sex. What kind of system is this? I can't go and admit I married in a temple if we live together.

I can have a partner of my choice and find sexual relationship, but cannot get married.

Govt says this is a country of culture and parampara, we cannot allow same sex marriage. We are Ice berg community as we don't disclose our identity due to oppression. There is a lot of debate going on about it. Govt has to take mindset of people into consideration. Of course govt cannot force the law.

We're humans, we have likes and dislikes. If I take sexual pleasure in privacy, it's my issue.

Our Country is the only country that ensures equality. There is Transgender protection act, 2019. Times are changing, mindset should change as well.

Society's condition is such that parents are ready to accept, but the neighbors do not allow it. Waiting for Counselling facilities isn't really worth. We need protected rights. There should be more acts and laws that have penalties if violated. Identify for which problem are we born.

Barring few films, movies and TV shows are primarily responsible for putting our section in bad light. You don't have any right to make money by tarnishing our image in society (including TKSS). We're humans.

Anu (addresses Anu Choudhury) is always associated with us many other Odia film superstars too.

Andhara ra alingan book and movie is about to come."

"No matter how much awareness programs run, the root reason is us. We need to accept. Be it a girl or boy, education empowers individual to take personal decisions. I hope in the next session, we'll discuss the change in society.

There's a positive and negative in every aspect. To learn as an actor about a character, I will approach you to learn about the dynamics. My intention would never be to demean a section of society," says Anu Choudhury.

Sadhana Mishra suggests for an Odia film to be made on this social stigma.

Sahadev Sahoo addresses Meera Parida and Sadhana Mishra by saying "You should write your own story. Write your autobiography. If there's a sexual assault, people should take it seriously.

School and college students need to have workshops for awareness and social acceptance."

The session followed by Q&A and then Film Screening. One of the highlighted question was asked by Soumitri Hota.

He said he has already revealed to his parents that he's gay, but his parents hesitate to talk about it despite accepting him. Anu Choudhury and Meera Parida supported and assured him about discussing about this issue with his parents if cannot convince them.

The screening of 5 films was held for one hour followed by vote of thanks by Debashish Samantaray.

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