The Divas of the Kinnar Akhadas

Today was the most spectacular walk for me at the Kumbh as I ventured into the Kinnar Akhada. This is the first time Kumbh is showcasing an entire Akhada of Transvestites. Their leader is a beautiful transgender by the name of Swami Laxmi Narayan Tripathi. She is the queen or should I say, the High Priestess of the Kinnar Akhada. They had a huge tent where followers and pilgrims thronged to get a glimpse of these transgender saints. Most of them had enlarged breasts and androgynous features deeply representative of the ardh nareshwara. Yes, in front of their main gate is the half-Shiva and half-Shakti image of the ardh nareshwara. It is the key symbol of the Kinnar Akhada.

The key teachings of the akhada is to tell the world that both the feminine and the masculine reside in one body like two halves that make a whole in synergy inside one body. They say they have the female and the male in one body. Unlike in the world where females and males are in separate bodily vessels, the Kinnars are the embodiments of the Ardh nareshvar where both Shiva and Shakti merge into one singular energy. Our Vedic texts and stories of Mahabharata are full of the valour of the great Kinnars. It was after all Shikhandi who broke Bhishma’s back and vanquished him in battle. The Kinnars also possessed great magical and healing powers that are given to them by the divine – a kind of boon for the deformities they suffered. They cannot have children but if they bless a woman, she will definitely conceive. There were huge lines outside the Kinnar tents consisting of women who thronged to get their blessings so that they could conceive. The Kinnars are also great meditators and if harnessed, these magical qualities and boons they possess can do wonders for society at large. Even in the big cities, they dance at weddings and bless the newlyweds. They are also called to dance in Godh Bharayi Rasam. When a child is born into a family, Kinners are called.

However, the society at large shuns them away. Some of them are so poor they have to beg on the streets. Some are sold into brothels and become sex workers. Some serve and dance in beer bars. I met a few in Bollywood, as they are good actors. Because of their heightened sensitivities, they can perform any role with ease but most of the time, they play themselves. But they are a part of our culture, our myths, stories and folktales. The Kinnars have done all of us proud and are of great benefit to our society. We need to learn to respect and love them, as they are the ones who show us that both Shiva and Shakti can reside in one form and that is the magical form of the Kinnars.

I wanted so much to do an interview with the head Kinnar Narayan Tripathi as he stood apart from the others. This was one graceful transgender with a cream colour kurta and headgear. He was tall, fair and had a very beautiful face that shone and was radiant with grace and the abha of ardh nareshwar himself. I tried to get through to talk to him but there was a huge crowd and then the police officers came at me as I tried to talk to his fellow Kinnars. I Guess I was chewing pan parag and the Kinnars got a bit offended. That may be why I managed to miss the interview. Nonetheless, I will try again and have a one-to-one session with this man. I feel he is also a perfect fit for the role of Chandu in my story Chandu to Aravan in the book
. Until then, God bless the Kinnars and may they prosper forever and shine like a beacon at the Kumbh.

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