Haridwar 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). “Representatives of Kinnar Akhara have vowed to and signed a written agreement that they will follow the tradition, customs, norms and the rituals of Juna Akhara, after which they were inducted into our Akhara. We can’t keep (them) out from the mainstream Sanatan Dharma rituals and Kumbh tradition. Kinnar sanyasis deserve to be recognised and get associated with the Akhara tradition,” said Mahant Hari Giri Maharaj, the chief convener of Juna Akhara.With this, the Kinnar Akhara will become part of every Kumbh mela moving forward. The next full (purna) Kumbh mela is scheduled to be held in 2022 in Haridwar.The Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP), the apex body governing the 13 Akharas, too, has softened its stance for the inclusion of the transgender seers into the Akhara tradition.ABAP national president Mahant Narendra Giri said that there were some objections within the Parishad regarding their inclusion but after the Kinnar Akhara “signed a written agreement to duly follow the traditions and the customs of the Akhara, their inclusion has been welcomed by the Parishad”.Giri, however, added that the Kinnar Akhara haven’t been given a separate Akhara identity, and merged with the Panch Dashnaam Juna Akhada.In a landmark judgment in April 2014, the Supreme Court had recognised the transgender people as a third gender, and followed it by overturning the colonial-era law that held gay sex as crime in September 2018. Thanking the Akharas, Pavitra Mai, the secretary of Kinnar Akhara, said that after the Supreme Court’s decision recognising the transgenders as a ‘third gender’, the members of the community were being “seen in a different light”.“Ujjain Kumbh in 2015 and now Prayagraj Kumbh in 2019 have given us our religious rights, which we were denied earlier. We have no caste but we have our blessings to give, which we will use for protecting the Sanatan Dharma as we are now saints,” Mai said.