March 28, 2010

the hijra tradition

i just read this blog post about hijras.

when i was fourteen, we travelled to india with my foi's family to see part of the country properly. we travelled mostly the north and west parts of india. while visiting the ganges (a holy river), there was a group of 4-5 hijras that followed us as we walked through the streets of haridwar (i think that's the city we were in.. i don't quite remember :S). now, i don't remember if we gave them any money or just kept walking, but i do remember my fuaji not realising they were hijras. he just thought they were female beggars asking for money.

a few years back, my oldest bhai got married in india. during his santhak (pre-wedding ceremony), a hijra showed up asking for money. dad came up to me after the negotiations to point out the hijra from the window telling me that one did in fact show up. i was incredibly disappointed i missed it! had i known, i would have taken video of the incident. apparently they had the hijra sign a letter stating that money has been given to a person of the hijra community in case another shows up later.

i've been told that if a wedding has happened overseas, hijras will show up to the family's house in india demanding money, otherwise they will curse the newly weds. sometimes a hijra will show up even a month after the wedding asking for money. this doesn't actually happen in north america mainly because hijras don't really exist here (well to my knowledge anyway..). hijras are a unique category that is different from transgender since hijras don't perceive themselves as a man or a woman.

maybe in a warped honour of this "tradition", we could have drag queens during the cocktail hour! how much fun would that be? or, going on a previous idea, we could have one of the drag queens be a fortune teller. i would die of jealousy if someone pulled this off during an indian reception.

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