Dedicated to Hijras, this article brings with it a heartfelt apology for censuring them as a clan lacking what is claimed as courage, bravery and all that is considered macho.
To bring you up to score, here is a brief history of the Hijra community. You see, for eons in Bharatvarsha, the Hijras were deified – then came the British colonists who perceived them as a threat to morality and political authority. The Brits foisted Victorian sexual mores on Indian culture, further demonising the Hijras, and criminalising them under the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871, by which they were also stripped of their inheritance rights. Generations of Indians thereafter embraced that voice of thought and continued to adopt an epic disdain towards the Hijra community who became a source of constant ridicule slowly nudged into a livelihood of sex workers.
However, no amount of derogatory references can take away from the fact that to this day – no religious rite such as a marriage or a child’s rite of passage is complete without the blessings of Hijras. Kudos to Laxmi Narayan Tripathy, PhD, a Hijra rights activist who has brought to the fore the plight of her community. She has for the last few years worked to give them back their dignity and a rightful place in society. For the first time, this year they participated as equals in the Kumbha Mela. I say, more power to them!
Another less know fact – did you know, that unlike ‘us heterosexuals’ you have to be actually ordained into the Hijra community? It is not your God-given right, you have to earn it! They have a code of conduct which has strict norms about justice, law and order, unity, and an ingrained spirit of nationalism.
Although, my column usually reeks of sarcasm with double entendres and scathing remarks about stalwart citizens lost in the fray of the nine culpable sins, these following words are a sincere attempt to encourage the Hijras to venture forth and reclaim their lost place in society:
Do not ever let the commonly accepted ‘man’ ever belittle you, because he of late seems to have lost the virtues you possess
Do not ever cast your eyes down in front of those that ridicule you – look them in the eye so they can see their image of cowardice in yours
For you are way above that specific species of mankind that have enthroned themselves, garbed in the legacies of yesteryears that the colonial masters bequeathed upon us, creating dynasties, and pro-creating heirs not worthy of walking in your shadow.
More apologies from my end will be forthcoming especially to bangles some of which I need to give to the Hijras with a humble request that they consecrate these at the altar of the crumbling edifice of law and order.