This year's fair is setting a new precedent giving transgender seers an opportunity to take part in Kumbh rituals. (HT Photo)
This year's fair is setting a new precedent giving transgender seers an opportunity to take part in Kumbh rituals. (HT Photo)

Transgender seers participate in mahakumbh at Haridwar for first time

A large number of Kinnar Akhada seers are arriving in Haridwar these days amid grand reception.
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 06:20 PM IST

Transgender seer Mahamandaleshwar Tina Maa got emotional as for first time she sat on a chariot to take part in the age-old ritual of Peshwayi, or royal procession, taken out by recognised Akhadas prior to Shahi Snaan during mahakumbh. It is for the first time that Kinnars are participating in the mahakumbh at Haridwar.

Earlier, the transgender seers were not allowed to take part in royal procession or royal baths. This year's fair is setting a new precedent giving transgender seers an opportunity to take part in Kumbh rituals. They had participated in Ardh Kumbh at Prayagraj in 2019.

A large number of transgender Akhada seers are arriving in Haridwar these days amid grand reception.

Mahamandaleshwar Tina Maa said permission by Shri Panch Dashnam Juna Akhada, one of the biggest akhadas, to allow Kinnar seers to take part in Peshwayi and subsequently next month in the sacred Ganga dip ritual along with them will shine a global spotlight on them.

Acharya Mahamandaleshwar Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, the highest pontiff of Kinnar Akhada, said that with changing times societal norms are also changing and so is the mass acceptability of transgenders.

“Kinnars have centuries old tradition of being guardians of art and culture; we have been associated for thousands of years with society customs, traditions, rituals and history. Now, Mahakumbh fair is providing us global identity, respect and recognition. Transgenders are now taking up education and the government should provide us with more amenities. Transgender community also needs to explore avenues in politics,” said Acharya Mahamandaleshwar Laxmi Narayan, who is a trained Bharatnatyam danseuse also.

Welcoming the Kinnar seers, general secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad, Mahant Hari Giri Maharaj, said that its Sanatan Dharma which involves, imbibes and respects all sections of the society.

"We had pledged that Kinnar Akhada will take holy Ganga dip along with Juna Akhada seers and finally the time has come. Grand welcome to Kinnar seers in Peshwayi has proven that they are an integral part of our society,” said Mahant Hari Giri, associated with Juna Akhada.

Eminent religious scholar Dr Pradeep Joshi said participation of transgenders in this Kumbh has shown the world that they too are religious, have culture, moral values, spiritual awakening, quest for enlightenment and wisdom.

Notably, though there are 13 prominent akhadas that come under umbrella of Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad, Kinnar Akhada as a separate sub-entity of Juna Akhada was allowed by Akhada Parishad to carry out royal procession and take holy dip at Sangam-confluence of Ganga-Jamuna-Saraswati in Ardh Kumbh Prayagraj (Allahabad) two years ago.

Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad national president Mahant Narendra Giri clarified that initially prior to Prayagraj Kumbh there were objections from some quarter within Akhada Parishad but as Kinnar Akhada had made a written agreement in prior to duly follow traditions and customs of Akhada, their inclusion has been granted by the Akhada Parishad.

He added that Kinnar Akhada was not given separate Akhada identity or as 14th Akhada, they have been merged with Shri Panch Dashnam Juna Akhada.

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