Miss Koovagam, a beauty pageant meant for transgenders, held here in connection with the annual Koothandavar festival, saw quite a number of entries on Monday.

Sadhaana of Vijayawada was declared the title winner, and Aishwarya of Erode the first runner-up and Namitha of Chennai the second runner-up. They were crowned by the actor-couple Sarat Kumar and Radhika.

Another transgender Geetha of Chennai, who performed well, was given a cash award of Rs. 2,500.

Mr. Sarat Kumar, who acted as a transgender in a Tamil film Kanchana, said that by dint of hard work, the transgenders could occupy a dignified position in life.

Sadhaana said the transgenders were happy to get the third gender status through the Supreme Court. However, societal recognition would come about only when they got government jobs. Therefore, the government should create a quota for the community in employment.

The Koothandavar festival, revolving round the Koothandavar temple at Ulundurpet, has attracted hundreds of transgenders from various parts of the country and abroad. It is a unique occasion for the transgenders who congregate at Villupuram and participate in the event with enthusiasm.

They would troupe into the Koothandavar temple on Tuesday night to symbolically get married to Aravan, the presiding deity. The priests would assume the role of Aravan and tie the ‘mangal sutra’ to the transgenders. In the Mahabharata, Aravan was sacrificed to ensure the victory of the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra war with the Kauvravas. However, it was the death wish of Aravan that before giving up his soul he ought to get married, even for a night. But as no woman came forward to marry him, Lord Krishna was believed to have transformed into a woman to become his wife.

On Wednesday morning, the entire temple would be filled with wailing sounds with the transgenders mourning Aravan. All of them would be “widowed” and with a heavy heart, they would return to their places.

The event would conclude with a car procession on Wednesday.

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