For the very first time, the Kinnar Akhara, an institution representing transgenders, is attending the Simhastha Kumbh Mela, currently underway in Ujjain. The members of the akhara drew maximum attention as devotees scrambled to seek their blessings when they arrived at the Gandharv Ghat.
The Kinnar Akhara’s formation was reportedly opposed by 13 established akharas. It has several members, but never in the past have they been seen at any Kumbh. “We thought we won’t be accepted here because we are generally discriminated against, but people not only welcomed us, they showered money and devotion on us,” Pavitra, who hails from Amravati but moved to Mumbai to be with her “guru”, told The Indian Express.
According to The Hindu, Madhya Pradesh’s holy city of Ujjain has geared up to hold one of the biggest religious gatherings of Hindus- Simhastha-Kumbh Mela which commenced on Friday. It’s for the first time that the transgenders have participated.
The state government has spent nearly Rs 3,500 crore, some of which has come from the Centre for developing infrastructure, amenities and beautifying Ujjain – a city revered in Hindu scriptures for one of the biggest religious congregations. “An amount of Rs 3,500 crore has been kept aside to hold the Simhastha mela in a grand way,” state Transport Minister Bupendra Singh, who is overseeing the mela preparations, said.
“Beside the akharas comprising sadhus from all over the country, nearly five crore devotees are expected to take part in the mela. Security has been stepped up in every nook and corner of the district,” Inspector General of Police Ujjain Madhu Kumar said.
Crores of devotees will throng to the banks of the pious river Shipra in the month-long mela. As expected the ‘peshwai’ (procession) to enter the venue (a traditional practice) by transgenders was the biggest draw on the first day.