Kumbh 2019: Third gender seers to be part of mega event this year
Prayagraj, Jan 30: The Panch Dashnaam Juna Akhara, one of the thirteen official congregations (akharas) of Hindu seers and sadhus, has decided to impart religious, spiritual and ritual teaching ('deeksha') to the seers of Kinnar (transgender) Akhara as part of their induction into the Juna Akhara, and following their first participation in the ongoing Prayagraj Kumbh fair (in Uttar Pradesh).
The Kinnar Akhara will this year be participating in the Prayagraj Kumbh and will be inducted into the Juna Akhara which is constituted by Hindu practitioners and saints. From this year, the Kinnar Akhara will be a part of every Kumbh Mela. The next Kumbh Mela will be held in the year 2022.
Dressed in saffron and red saris, they reached the river banks to take the ritual bath that Hindus believe will rid them of their sins, as devotees chanted religious hymns and thousands of people looked on.
Hijras, a term used in the country for transgenders and eunuchs, often live on the extreme fringes of society, with many forced into prostitution, begging or menial jobs. But Hinduism has many references to transgenders, including gods and goddesses who belong to the third gender.
Over the centuries transgenders have assumed different roles in society, from royal courtesans to participants in birth ceremonies and other auspicious occasions. They have waged a lengthy battle to protect their rights and end discrimination.
The Supreme Court recognized them as a third gender in a historic ruling, followed by a judgement last year that overturned a colonial-era law criminalising gay sex.
The Kumbh Mela, which began on Tuesday, is expected to attract more than 100 million Hindus over the coming seven weeks to bathe at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati rivers.