Bhubaneswar/Cuttack: It was a first-of-its kind effort by them. And it was for others. More precisely, it was for the multitude of victims of the floods in Kerala and for world peace.
More than 200 transgenders from across the state came together under the leadership of Meera Parida to perform ‘Jal Abhisek’ of Lord Shiva on the last Monday of the holy month of Shraavan.
In their first-ever avatar as kanwarias, they collected water from Gadgadia (Mahanadi River) in Cuttack and walked all the way to the Lingaraj Temple in the capital to offer prayers to the Lord for well-being of the Kerala flood victims and for world peace.
They were not short on zeal and enthusiasm as they traversed the 20-odd kilometers from the Silver City to the city of temples, their final destination, braving rain, broken roads and traffic; dressed in red and yellow sarees, their chants of `bol bom’ were as full-throated as of any other kanwaria making a beeline for Shiva temples across the state on the last day.
Head of the Kinnar Akhada, Meera Parida, said, “Our main goal was to pray for the Kerala flood victims and the restoration of world peace. Moreover, through this initiative, we want social acceptance of the transgender community which would enable us to join the mainstream.”
“I am originally from Malkangiri, but stay at the Kinnar Basti of Bhubaneswar. I always wanted to offer the holy water to the Lord. I couldn’t as doing it alone would have been risky. However, this time the whole Kinnar family has come forward to offer sacred water to the Lord. I would like to convey the message that we are no less than anyone and if given a chance, we can prove ourselves in every field,” said one of them.
“I staunchly believe that with our puja offerings, the mindset of the people towards our community will change completely. There will be development of everyone and peace will be restored in society,” said Soni, another transgender.
“The novel initiative undertaken by the transgenders for world peace and Kerala flood victims is really commendable. We have to come forward to aid them in their noble gesture,” informed Sasmita Das, president of International Human Rights Council.
For the Sonis and the Paridas, the process of assimilating with their cherished “mainstream” may just have taken one big step forward on the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar highway on the last Monday of the Indian calendar month of a rain-washed Shraavan.