Koothandavar Festival

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Koothandavar festival at Koovagam in Tamil Nadu plays out a tale of marriage and widowhood, all in a day.

About Koothandavar festival 

  • In the Tamil month of Chithirai (mid-April to mid-May), the 18-day Koothandavar festival takes place in Koovagam of Tamil Nadu.
  • It is the annual event, steeped in tradition, garners global attention for its unique celebration of the transgender identity.
  • History
    • In a Tamil version of the Mahabharata, a character called Aravan offered himself as sacrifice for the Pandavas’ triumph in war.
    • It is said he had a boon of marriage before his sacrifice but no woman wanted to marry him as it would mean widowhood.
    • Eventually, it is said Lord Krishna married Aravan after taking the form of Mohini. Lore has it that Lord Krishna grieved for Aravan as a widow.
  • Rituals
    • The focal point of the festival, Lord Aravan's sacrificical ritual.
    • On the 17th day of the ceremony, transwomen from far and wide congregate to wed Lord Aravan.
    • The next day, as the culmination of the festival, Aravan would be sacrificed in the war.
    • Marking his death, the trans woman who married him go through the rituals of widowhood, lamenting Aravan's death.

Q: What is the National Council for Transgender Persons?

It is a statutory body constituted under the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2019 to safeguard the rights of transgender persons in India.It is responsible for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the provisions of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.

Source: In Frames | Vicissitudes of a wedding