Mayana Kollai: Hindu Transwomen’s Annual Oasis of Acceptance
Mayana Kollai, a festival honoring the Hindu goddess Angala Parameswari, provides a rare opportunity for the public acknowledgment of transwomen in India. The women—known as kothis, among other designations—transform into spiritually revered beings welcomed into homes for blessings and incorporated into major festival events. Offering brief respite from the social struggles faced by the Indian trans community including physical and sexual violence, the late-winter/early-spring celebration involves elaborate preparations for the women, some of whom have become minor celebrities in their own right. The New York Times features a photo series of kothis in the state of Tamil Nadu as they prepare for the festival, marking the bridge from social marginalization to divine honor.
“Mortal to Divine and Back: India’s Transgender Goddesses” (The New York Times)
(Image Credit: Candace Feit, via The New York Times)