Framed | Society

Kumbh’s watercolours


Transgender saints of the Kinnar Akhara had their finest hour at the Prayagraj mela

It was the maiden entry of the Kinnar Akhara, a group of transgender saints, in the Prayagraj Kumbh. The group of 15 to 20 members, which attended the Ujjain Kumbh in 2016, has been taking part in the holy baths at the Kumbh Mela this year along with other akharas. The Akhara has provided a forum for transgenders to pursue a dignified life with religious rituals. It does not believe in caste.

The Akhara is led by 10 Mahamandaleshwars (leaders) in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Maharashtra and others. It is yet to be recognised by an umbrella organisation of 13 recognised monastic orders of India known as the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad. Recently, the Juna Akhara, a traditional and powerful akhara with four lakh members, most of them Naga Babas, has given recognition to the Kinnar Akhara and allowed it to be a part of the Shahi Snan in Kumbh.

Special arrangements have been made at the Kumbh Mela ground to accommodate the members of each Akhara. In total, 13 Akharas are taking part in the mela. Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, chief of the the Kinnar Akhara, along with her supporters, had been preparing to participate in the Prayagraj Kumbh for two years to reclaim the lost religious identity and religious freedom of the transgender community. People from all over India and from across the world have joined the Kinnar Akhara, and it is one big family now.

Text and images by Ritu Raj Konwar

Other Slideshows

A letter from the Editor

Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism
Related Topics
Recommended for you