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Maiden Entry of Kinnar Akhara grabs the Spotlight at Ujjain Kumbh

The transgender community is fighting against discrimination for ages and they seek acceptance and recognition and want to be part of the society

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Lakshmi Tripathi, the mahamandaleshwar, or great leader of the Kinnar Akhara. Image Source: Scroll.in[ Punit Reddy]
  • The Simhastha or Kumbh Mela at Ujjain saw a gathering of thousands of devotees lined up to seek the blessings of the transgender community, Kinnar Akhara
  • Kinnar can be understood as Kin-nar which means what-men and is the closest Sanskrit word for transgender
  • While some of the existing 13 Akharas are struggling to find devotees, the newly formed Kinnar Akhara has received an overwhelming response with thousands of people 

With over 100 million participants, the Kumbh Mela festival in India is the world’s largest congregation of religious pilgrims. By washing themselves in the sacred rivers, the Hindu pilgrims and sadhus believe to be cleansed of all their sin and liberated from the cycle of life, death and rebirth. The Simhastha or Kumbh Mela at Ujjain saw a gathering of thousands of devotees lined up to seek the blessings of the transgender community, Kinnar Akhara.

The Kumbh Mela is held once every three years at Haridwar, Prayag, Nashik and Ujjain. The venue is decided based on planetary movements and it is believed that the event marks the time when the river waters gain the power of amrita(the nectar of immortality) churned by devas (celestial forces) and asuras (subterranean forces) from the ocean of milk. The waters are believed to have the power to rid of all the sins acquired in one’s life so that he can start his life once again.

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The holy men, popularly known as Naga Babas are the first to bathe in these waters. The Babas or mendicants belong to one of 13 akharas, or ascetic orders. The scroll.in report says that the term naga probably originated from the word nanga, or naked, for they are digambaras – which means sky-clad, a metaphor for naked. The shahi-snan, or the royal bath of the babas, is the highlight of the Kumbh Mela. The bodies of the Naga Babas are usually smeared with ash, which is believed to contain a spiritual power born of celibacy. The ash mingles with the water, thereby lending to it this power. Only after these holy men have bathed do devotees jump into the water, cited the Scroll.in report.

A transgender from the Kinnar Akhara at Ujjain Kumbh. Image source: Punit Reddy

Kinnar can be understood as Kin-nar which means what-men and is the closest Sanskrit word for transgender. An akhara is a place of practice with facilities for boarding, lodging and training either used by Indian martial artists or a monastery for religious renunciates. The akhara members, the babas, are aligned to various schools of Hinduism such as Shaivism and Vaishnavism. There are Sikh akharas too. The akharas are either astradharis (those who bear weapons) or shastradharis (those who bear scriptures), says the Scroll.in report.

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According to the Scroll.in report, while some of the existing 13 Akharas are struggling to find devotees, the newly formed Kinnar Akhara has received an overwhelming response with thousands of people falling at the feet of the transgenders led by Lakshmi Tripathi, who was declared the mahamandaleshwar of this spiritual gymnasium. As they were seen as a subversive group, rather than a traditional one, they were denied the right to take part in shahi snan. So, they took out their own procession, the Peshwai, with horses and camels, and even took a bath on their own terms.

“We thought we won’t be accepted here because we are generally discriminated against, but people not only welcomed us, they showered money and devotion on us,” Pavitra, who belongs to the Kinnar Akhara, told The Indian Express.

The transgender community has been fighting against discrimination since ages. They seek acceptance and recognition and want to be part of the society. The public support at the Kumbh Mela has not only made them happy but has also sparked a hope of complete assimilation into the society.

-This article is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    How double faced can we be? On one side we seek blessings from them and on the other we do not consider them as a part of our society!

Next Story

Patients Going Through Gender-Transition Treatment At A Grater Risk Of Cardiac Diseases

Researchers determined and compared the incidence of CVD cases in the transgender population with that reported in the general population. 

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On the other hand, transmen -- those assigned female sex at birth but had male gender identity and received hormones -- had a more than three-fold rise in heart-attack risk compared with women, said the study, published in the journal, Circulation. Pixabay

Patients receiving hormone therapy as part of their gender-transition treatment have an elevated risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including heart attacks, strokes and blood clotting, researchers say.

Researchers determined and compared the incidence of CVD cases in the transgender population with that reported in the general population.

The study showed that transwomen — individuals, assigned male sex at birth but with female gender identity, receiving hormones as part of their transition — had more than twice as many strokes as women and nearly twice as many strokes as men.

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Heart attacks occurred at more than twice the rate among transwomen than women. Pixabay

In addition, there were five times as many blood clotting among transwomen than women and 4.5 times more than men.

Heart attacks occurred at more than twice the rate among transwomen than women.

On the other hand, transmen — those assigned female sex at birth but had male gender identity and received hormones — had a more than three-fold rise in heart-attack risk compared with women, said the study, published in the journal, Circulation.

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In addition, there were five times as many blood clotting among transwomen than women and 4.5 times more than men. 
Pixabay

“In the light of our results, we urge both physicians and transgender individuals to be aware of this increased cardiovascular risk,” said Nienke Nota, researcher at the Amsterdam University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

Also Read: Push-ups Can Lower The Risk of Heart Diseases

“It may be helpful to reduce the risk factors by stopping smoking, exercising, eating a healthy diet and losing weight, if needed before starting therapy, and clinicians should continue to evaluate patients on an ongoing basis thereafter,” suggested Nota.

For the study, the researchers included 3,875 individuals who had received hormone treatment — 2,517 transgender women received estrogen, with or without androgen-suppressors, and 1,358 transgender men received testosterone — as part of their transition. (IANS)