"Oppari" Ritual | Koovagam Annual Transgender Festival,India #SouthAsia #SAARC

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"Oppari" Ritual | Koovagam Annual Transgender Festival,India

At the Dawn of 18 th day, Transgenders doing “Oppari” Ritual (a means to express their sadness at a person’s death) marking the occasion of Mourning for Aravaan’s Death.

Check out the Entire Album of “Koovagam Transgender Festival | 2016” to see complete documentation about the festival.

Koovagam is a village in the Ulundurpettai taluk in Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu,India.It is famous for its annual festival of transgender and transvestite individuals, which takes 18 days in the Tamil month of Chitrai (April/May).

The festival takes place at the Koothandavar Temple dedicated to Aravan (Koothandavar). The participants marry the Lord Koothandavar, thus reenacting an ancient myth of Lord Vishnu/Krishna who married him after taking a form of a woman called Mohini. The next day, they mourn the god Koothandavar’s death through ritualistic dances and by breaking their bangles.

The 18 day festival celebrates the final days of Aravaan’s life, right up to his brave sacrifice on the 18th day. The highlight of the festival happens to be the marriage of Aravaan. The transgenders who gather here are the self-proclaimed brides of Aravaan. They claim themselves to be incarnations of Krishna, who was a man trapped inside a woman’s body, when he seduced Aravaan, just like the transgenders themselves. The first 15 days of the festival pass in dancing, singing and merrymaking, the transgenders putting up colourful and lively performances. All through the 18 days, a gigantic head of Aravaan is made and painted with the greatest care within the temple precincts

On the 17th day, the priest does special poojas to the idol of Aravaan and bringing upon the power of Aravaan on himself, he ties the mangalsutra (the sacred marital thread) around the neck of all the transgenders present there. They are now the wives of Aravaan, just for the night. A gala feast is organised which is followed by a night full of merrymaking, laughter and dance. The gigantic head of Aravaan is mounted on a chariot and taken around the village.

At the dawn of the 18th day, the air is ripped by sharp wails, as Aravaan is beheaded, widowing all his one-day-old wives. Following the traditions, the widows of Aravaan rip the Mangalsutraa from their necks, tear flowers out of their hair, throw away ornaments, and remove all cosmetics from their faces, wailing loudly, beating their chests, just like Krishna mourned for Aravaan long, long ago. They did a holy dip and wear a white saree (widow costume). And till that day arrives, they have to rely on the grace of Aravaan to take them through the rough times to come.

Check out the Entire Album of “Koovagam Transgender Festival | 2016” to see complete documentation about the festival.

Koovagam is a village in the Ulundurpettai taluk in Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu,India.It is famous for its annual festival of transgender and transvestite individuals, which takes 18 days in the Tamil month of Chitrai (April/May).

The festival takes place at the Koothandavar Temple dedicated to Aravan (Koothandavar). The participants marry the Lord Koothandavar, thus reenacting an ancient myth of Lord Vishnu/Krishna who married him after taking a form of a woman called Mohini. The next day, they mourn the god Koothandavar’s death through ritualistic dances and by breaking their bangles.

The 18 day festival celebrates the final days of Aravaan’s life, right up to his brave sacrifice on the 18th day. The highlight of the festival happens to be the marriage of Aravaan. The transgenders who gather here are the self-proclaimed brides of Aravaan. They claim themselves to be incarnations of Krishna, who was a man trapped inside a woman’s body, when he seduced Aravaan, just like the transgenders themselves. The first 15 days of the festival pass in dancing, singing and merrymaking, the transgenders putting up colourful and lively performances. All through the 18 days, a gigantic head of Aravaan is made and painted with the greatest care within the temple precincts

On the 17th day, the priest does special poojas to the idol of Aravaan and bringing upon the power of Aravaan on himself, he ties the mangalsutra (the sacred marital thread) around the neck of all the transgenders present there. They are now the wives of Aravaan, just for the night. A gala feast is organised which is followed by a night full of merrymaking, laughter and dance. The gigantic head of Aravaan is mounted on a chariot and taken around the village.

At the dawn of the 18th day, the air is ripped by sharp wails, as Aravaan is beheaded, widowing all his one-day-old wives. Following the traditions, the widows of Aravaan rip the Mangalsutraa from their necks, tear flowers out of their hair, throw away ornaments, and remove all cosmetics from their faces, wailing loudly, beating their chests, just like Krishna mourned for Aravaan long, long ago. They did a holy dip and wear a white saree (widow costume). And till that day arrives, they have to rely on the grace of Aravaan to take them through the rough times to come.

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Source From flickr.com
Author: Vijayaraj PS
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