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Pooja hijra

So they left. Still, a group of people stayed behind, at the edge of the forest, because they were neither men nor women. They were hijras, which in Urdu means something like eunuchs. Those people waited in the woods for 14 years until Lord Rama returned, which won them a special place in Hindu mythology. Today hijras, who include transgender and intersex people, are hard to miss. Dressed in glittering saris, their faces heavily coated in cheap makeup, they sashay through crowded intersections knocking on car windows with the edge of a coin and offering blessings. They dance at temples. They crash fancy weddings and birth ceremonies, singing bawdy songs and leaving with fistfuls of rupees. Many Indians believe hijras have the power to bless or curse, and hijras trade off this uneasy ambivalence. Then laughter.
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Collection with 29 media items created by Alison McCauley. India has an estimated one million hijras. The hijra communities in India have a recorded history that goes back more than 4, years. They have historically had a sanctioned place in Indian society and culture. Ancient myths bestow them with special powers to bring luck and fertility. Most hijras are uneducated and their lack of education and the discrimination they face makes it almost impossible for them to gain mainstream employment. Hijras earn their living singing and dancing at celebrations of births and weddings, and through begging and prostitution. Most hijras work in the sex trade. Hijra Commun Muskan arrives at Thane station in Mumbai in a rickshaw.
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In the Indian subcontinent , Hijra [n 1] are eunuchs , intersex people, and transgender people. In Pakistan , they are called Khawaja Sira—equivalent for transgender in Urdu language. Hijras are officially recognized as third gender in countries in the Indian subcontinent, [7] [8] being considered neither completely male nor female. Hijras have a recorded history in the Indian subcontinent from antiquity onwards as suggested by the Kama Sutra period. Many hijras live in well-defined and organised all- hijra communities, led by a guru. The word " hijra " is a Hindustani word. Since the late 20th century, some hijra activists and non-government organizations NGOs have lobbied for official recognition of the hijra as a kind of "third sex" or " third gender ", as neither man nor woman. This term is generally considered derogatory in Urdu and the word Khwaja Sara is used instead. A number of terms across the culturally and linguistically diverse Indian subcontinent represent similar sex or gender categories. While these are rough synonyms , they may be better understood as separate identities due to regional cultural differences.
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So they left. Still, a group of people stayed behind, at the edge of the forest, because they were neither men nor women. They were hijras, which in Urdu means something like eunuchs. Those people waited in the woods for 14 years until Lord Rama returned, which won them a special place in Hindu mythology. Today hijras, who include transgender and intersex people, are hard to miss. Dressed in glittering saris, their faces heavily coated in cheap makeup, they sashay through crowded intersections knocking on car windows with the edge of a coin and offering blessings.

They dance at temples. They crash fancy weddings and birth ceremonies, singing bawdy songs and leaving with fistfuls of rupees. Many Indians believe hijras have the power to bless or curse, and hijras trade off this uneasy ambivalence.

Then laughter. Kalra said. Behind the theatrics are often sad stories — of the sex trade and exploitation, cruel and dangerous castrations, being cast out and constantly humiliated. Her mother told her not to dwell on it.

None of her relatives wanted to take care of her. She was 8. A decade and a half later, Radhika is still a sex worker. She wears dark saris, chipped purple nail polish, a gold ring in her left nostril and her hair down the middle of her back.

When asked how she feels each evening as she heads off to work, to stand in a line of other prostitutes along the railway tracks, waiting for customers, she shrugged.

Many are engaged in sex work, locked into service for a guru who takes most of their earnings. She seemed scared to talk about her. Within the hijra world, gurus fulfill the hybrid role of den mother, godfather, spiritual leader and pimp.

The gurus are hijras as well, usually in their 40s or 50s. There is a bit of a pyramid sales scheme within the hijra community. For every hijra, the idea is to get as many chelas working for you as possible. The money flows up; the protection from abusive customers or police officers flows down. But one guru opened up. She lives on the second floor of a slum house in Mumbai, up a narrow metal ladder, like on a ship. Different from Radhika and most hijras, who spend their years in small, airless shanties with the smell of feces wafting through cracks in the walls, this guru, who calls herself Chandini, rents a relatively large apartment.

She sat on a cleanly swept floor, slumped against a Whirlpool fridge. When I had my sex change, we had to do it ourselves. In the past, she said with a sigh, countless young men died from sloppy castrations. They were often performed by people with no medical training. India has come a long way from that. In some states, such as Kerala, in the south, a person can now get a sex change at a government hospital.

A few years ago, India officially recognized transgender as a third gender , eligible for welfare and other government benefits. Not all transgender people are hijras or members of guru families. Hundreds of years ago, under traditional Hindu culture, hijras enjoyed a certain degree of respect. But Victorian England changed that. Many hijras feel a sense of alienation, of being looked at as freaks. They complain about being heckled, harassed and assaulted.

Chandini made no bones about how it worked among her 15 chelas. She even keeps a stack of receipt books, heaped by her TV, so anyone making a donation to a hijra in her neighborhood can keep a record of it. Puja seemed a lighter spirit, happy in her own skin.

She lives with three other transgender women and they cover their rent by dancing at temples and begging on the street. The police harass us. This is not fair. This is not justice. At end of interview, Puja looked at me and asked very earnestly:. Do they do sex work?



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