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Incredible India: The Koovagam Festival In Tamil Nadu

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.

Related posts:

  1. New Brahmins of Tamil Nadu
  2. Parties in Tamil Nadu Should Stop Harassing Kushboo
  3. Promoting and Preventing the Tamil Language From Extinction
  4. Lord Karunanidhi: God of the Tamil Atheists
  5. Tamil is Part of Indian Heritage

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Category: Culture & Religion

Comments (24)

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  1. youbetterwork says:

    do you know the dates for this festival in 2010?

    • Hari says:

      Like many festivals in India the exact dates will be announced only closer to the festival (based on astrological data). My suggestion is to check for the dates in Feb/March 2010.

  2. Mousam Mukherjee says:

    Dear all,

    I want to see the festival at Koovagam.

    Please inform me the exact dates, so that i can plan.

    Best regards,
    Mousam Mukherjee

    • Hari says:

      Welcome Mousam,

      There are no exact dates as in many festivals in India (it varies by year). I suggest you contact the temple authorities.

  3. karthika says:

    Hello friends,

    This year 2010 koovagam festival is on 27th and 28th of April, 2010. This is the final fixed date. So be happy and visit koovagam.

    With Regards,


    • Hari says:

      Thank you very much for the update Karthika. Many individuals have emailed me asking for this date.

  4. karthika says:

    Welcome Hari,

    The great night is on 27th Night

  5. revanth says:

    HI karthika,

    Thanks for sharing the dates? how far is it from chennai n can we get any good hotels to stay thr? we people want to go thr but thinking about the accommodation only… so plz give us the info regarding this.. waiting for u r reply..

    thank u..

  6. Joshy says:

    Hello revanth,
    There are no good hotels near Koovagam, you may stay at Villupuram town which is 40km. from Koovagam.Hotels like Archana, Adithya are reasonably good there.

  7. revanth says:

    Thanks Karthika,

    By which date we have to reach thr? and in which way we have to come thr from chennai? plz tell us about the route n trasportation..

    Waiting for ur reply.


  8. karthika says:

    Welcome Revanth.

    You should come to villupuram on Tuesday morning or by afternoon on 27th of April, 2010 Its better you can stay in lodge and take rust till evening and On Tuesday evening you go to busstand and catch bus for koovagam there are more bus on tuesday from there you can reach to koovagam on that evening. The holy night is on tuesday.

    With regards,


  9. Lara says:

    Are there make-up men available in koovagam to make me up as female? I am a cross dresser. I wish to wander as female in the society amidist Transgenders for these two days in order to satisfy my pleasure. Plz give reply

  10. karthika says:

    I think there’s no make up man in Villupuram. Yourself should make up by your own.

  11. rishi says:

    when aravanis reach villupuram. will they be available all the function days. can i meet aravanis in hotel. in which hotel aravani crowd will be more.

  12. Sant says:


    i want to see the festival i am staying in Bangalore how can i reach koovagam.

  13. sandya says:

    i too from bangalore, is any one moving from bangalore, pls mail me at

  14. hotte says:

    Hello, I am germanboy, and would go with pleasure to festival, I work in silvassa, I also may csossdresser who writes to me? my adress:

  15. Mayile tour says:

    Hi for all Transgenders,
    My name is velou from Pondicherry which is 70Km form Koovagam and 32Km from Villupuram.
    For Aravanni’s to stay villupuram is best,there is many hotels and lodges available,many aravanni’s are meet arravanni’s on the main market road near to old bus station.
    every year MAYILE TOUR make a trip to discover the festival for tourists.
    In pondicherry many french or foreigner are living so we arrange a trip on 27th April evening.
    If you want make up man, Taxi service or hotels please contact us. My No: (0) 94 43 08 54 63
    Food will be provide by the Temple trust or many new hotels open at festival time only to eat in near to temple.

    Route from Chennai: villupuram 4h travel and villupura to Koovagam 1:30h travel (38Km)

    Route from Bangalore: take bus banglore to pondicherry,Get down Villupuram or
    Take train get down villupuram Railway JN .
    Note:In villupuram 2 bus stand(new bus stand, old bus stand)
    New bus stand on the road of chennai to trichy Main road.There is no hotels so you should go city ,old bus stand is on the city were we find many Arravanni’s and Hotels.
    From old bustand to New bus stand 2km only from Railway station to old Bus station 2km.
    According the festival many buses arrange by Villupuram transport corporation

  16. resi says:

    hi everybody i will plan to attend festival any can help me this s my first time nd wr can i stay anyone share room

  17. Velou says:

    Hi Resi,
    Happy Koovagam festival
    I have 2 contact of transgenders to visit that progaram.
    if you want any help please give me a call.
    My No: 0 94 43 08 54 63
    Thank you

    • selvakumar says:

      hi i want meet the festival

      • Gireesh says:

        ls which is the date in 2011 koovagam festival

  18. Velou says:

    Hi Trans genders yesterday i was been at Koovagam.
    It was very interesting festival.
    if you want see the picture click : //
    Thank you

  19. saravanan says:

    Hi, Dear all,
    I am also watch the all thirungngai sister in the festival of Koovagam it is supper

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