Koovagam is a small town in Villupuram district in the state of Tamil Nadu. The Taluk the town is located in is called Ulundurpet. The 200 year old Koothandavar temple is located in this village. This is probably one of the most popular temples in India that you never heard of unless of course you are a member of the transgender community.
For fifteen days in the Tamil month of Chitrai (April-May) thousands of people from all over India assemble in Koovagam to celebrate the marriage of Aravani to Lord Krishna.
Recently the supreme court of New Delhi overturned Article 377. Gay sex is no longer illegal. One of the main arguments used by those who where against lifting the ban was that this type of behavior was not part of the Indian culture. They might change their opinions if they know what happens in Koovagam and other such temples all over India.
The transgender community considers Tamil Nadu to be one of the most progressive states in India. In the application form for both ID cards and Ration cards (most Indians know how important these two documents are) an individual can enter M for Male, F for Female or T for Transgender or Third Gender. The community is also extremely thankful for the government of Tamil Nadu for letting these festivals go on all these years in spite of efforts from conservatives to shut it down.
Tamil Nadu’s stance on is issue is in stark contrast to that of its neighbor Kerala (very progressive in many aspects but extremely homophobic because of pressure from its significant Christian and Muslim population).
Aravan (also known as Rajakumaran) is the son of Arjuna. According to the Mahabharata, the Pandavas decide to sacrifice Aravan in order to win the war. But Aravan wants to marry before he is sacrificed. No one wants to marry him and become a widow immediately thereafter. Lord Krishna touched by Aravan’s condition transforms himself into a woman, marries Aravan and spends the night with him. To celebrate this occasion thousands of devotees visit this village ever year in April/May.
On the last night the priest ties the Thali around the neck of devotees (which signifies their marriage to Aravan). A night full of wild celebrations begins. In the morning an image of Aravan is paraded in the streets after which it is destroyed. The Thalis and bangles are the broken and devotees wear a white sari. This marks the end of this incredible Indian festival and sadly the end of the escape from reality for these oppressed individuals.
- New Brahmins of Tamil Nadu
- Parties in Tamil Nadu Should Stop Harassing Kushboo
- Promoting and Preventing the Tamil Language From Extinction
- Lord Karunanidhi: God of the Tamil Atheists
- Tamil is Part of Indian Heritage
Category: Culture & Religion