Indian Hijra Festival
April 30, 2003 8:41 AM   Subscribe

Eunuchs' Day in the Sun: Eunuchs from all over India gathered in a small village, Koovagam, this week to re-enact a story from the Hindu scriptures in which they pretend to marry a warrior-god. Pictures from the festival.
posted by Spezzatura (10 comments total)
*boy isn't all religion just dumb comment*
posted by xmutex at 8:46 AM on April 30, 2003

There begins the weeping and wailing, the mourning for what is no longer.

Unfortunate choice of words...
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:53 AM on April 30, 2003

Well, I hope they had a ball.

Please, tip your waitresses.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:06 AM on April 30, 2003

Whatta buncha nuts...

Wait a minute...
posted by jonmc at 9:22 AM on April 30, 2003

But seriously... if the idea is to emulate Krishna becoming female for a night, why hasn't the eunnuch been supplanted by sex changed men? Is it an expense issue? Simple hacking off of the genitals seems outmoded at this point, but it's certainly cheaper...
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:26 AM on April 30, 2003

It seems from the articles that these are basically transsexuals. It's not a religious or even cultural thing although there's probably some of that involved.

The guys (or I guess they'd rather girls) are basically social outcasts. Is anybody more familiar with this phenomenon. Is it basically the same types of things that are driving US transsexuals, or is there something else at work here?
posted by willnot at 9:39 AM on April 30, 2003

For more confusion on that whole gender thing, check out Hijra.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:48 AM on April 30, 2003

Yes, they are transsexuals, with quite intricate cermonies surrounding their surgeries. They are to some extent social outcasts (living in their own communities), but there's also a lot of superstition surrounding them - pregnant women, for example, should always be extremely nice to them and offer them money, lest the hijra curse their unborn child and cause it to be a hijra. A novel set partly in the world of the hiijra is Bombay Ice by Leslie Forbes, I found it interesting enough to do some more research on them (I love the book).
posted by biscotti at 10:07 AM on April 30, 2003

I have done a little reading on hijras, and from what I understand, the best way to describe them is as a third gender, not as transsexuals.

They are usually men, but women can become hijras too, depending on the anatomy of their genitals (a woman with a dramatically enlarged clitoris, for example).

Culturally, they exist as a combination of priest-beggar-prostitute-clown-entertainer. I am fascinated.
posted by rocketman at 10:47 AM on April 30, 2003

For more interesting information about eunuchs in history, check out the links from y2karl in this thread. I, too, believe in the 'third', or 'other' gender description. Binary labeling sucks.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:43 AM on April 30, 2003

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