Brides of Aravan or Iravan (Story of Transgenders/Thirunangai)
The village of Koovagam is next to Ulundurpet taluk in Villupuram district. The Koothandavar temple is situated in this village. Transgendered from across India gather in Villupuram to re-enacted a story adopted from the Indian epic fable Mahabharata, every years which celebrated in the grand style.
The fable of Mahabharata: The God, ‘Aravaan’, or called as Iravan in Mahabharata, was born to Arjuna and Naga Princess Ulupi. The Pandavas, decided to sacrifice a human to ensure victory in the war . Iravan volunteered for the sacrifice, and in return was granted a dying wish. Before offering himself for sacrifice, Iravan wished to enjoy the pleasures of a woman and die as a married man. Lord Krishna appeared as a female in form of Mohini and married him and next day Aravan was beheaded. Mohini cried, lamented, wailed and bereaved for him like no wife would do for her husband.
Festival : The ‘Aravaani’s of Aravaan’ identify themselves with ‘Mohini’ – the female form of Krishna as a woman trapped inside a man’s body. In this festival, the priest who is considered as ‘Aravaan’ , ties the ‘thaali’ or ‘mangalsutra’ to the Aravaanis and binds them in the relationship of marriage. The next day, ‘thali arutthal’ or the rituals for widowhood are followed, which include snapping of the thaali and breaking of the bangles to signify the death of Iravan. The ‘Aravaani’s’ wear white saree and lament over the death of Aravaan. This is done on the last day of the 18-day festival. The entire place is filled with the loud wails of the transwomen and their appearance is in direct contrast to the previous day where they were decorated in attire.
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