Intrigued About The Well Protected World Of Hijras? Take A Peek Into This Part Of The World

Isha Shah

Behind those layers of makeup and glittering sarees, eunuchs have a whole world of their own, if you were wondering. The Urdu-Hindustani word “hijra” is derived from Arabic root hjr” meaning “leaving one’s tribe”. They have a culture and social order to tell the world about. Although their rituals are all Hindu in nature, they live a life more of the Muslim culture. It may sound contradictory, but that’s the crux of the matter, from birth till death, everything is contradictory in their life. Let’s take a peek into this interesting part of the world called Hijras.

The birth:

While the fetus is growing if there is lack or disturbance of sex hormones level, then the result would be the birth of a eunuch. This condition is called pseudo-hermaphrodite.

hijra birthSource

In general, hijras are born with typical male physiology. XX chromosomes lead to the birth of a girl, XY led to the birth of a boy whereas, XXY chromosomes result in the birth of a eunuch.


The operation:

It is usually done by the other members holding the to-be eunuch firmly down and cutting the genitalia with one slit, that too without anesthesia. Before the wound is attended to (with herbs, mustard oil, and cow dung), the “now eunuch” has to walk around for an hour. That’s rather painful!



The belief:

Hijras strongly believe that if a man is born impotent, he has to become a eunuch otherwise he may continue to get the birth as an impotent man for his next seven lives.


The death and funeral:

The belief behind the midnight hush hush progression of a eunuch funeral is that, if a non-eunuch sees them while their funeral is in progress, they will get birth as a eunuch in their next life.



The social order:

They have a simple hierarchy in order. There are gurus and there are chelas. The most basic social unit for a hijra is a household. It typically comprises of five to 15 people under a guru.

Chelas think of their gurus as their husband or mother.


In return, the Gurus pass down their wealth and possessions to their chelas like a father to sons. And chelas pay part of their earning to gurus as a token of respect.

Eunuch gurus recruit, train and auction their trainees. A particularly lovely dancer can fetch up to $3,000.


Their entertainment:

The annual festival of Hijras takes place at Koovagam, Tamil Nadu, where Hijras from all over India come and gather to make new friends, earn money through sex work and achieve spiritual cleansing through Hindu rituals. They also have beauty pageants and talent competitions.


Hijras consider themselves as ‘Mohini’, where the priest of Aravana temple marries them to their God ‘Aravan’, for a day and then cuts off the magalsutra thereby making them a widow.


Thousands of eunuchs dress in beautiful garments and ornaments to gather in Yellamma Devi Fair which is held five times between October and February every year at Yellamma temple, Belgaum district.


The young hijras, being rejected or ridiculed all their life, feel the safety and security for the first time in life when they join the hijra community. This is only when they feel the bond of sisterhood and belonging to a real family.


Their livelihood:

They are integral to several Hindu ceremonies. They earn their living by going at weddings, child births, new shop openings and other major family events uninvited to sing and dance.


Around two thousand hijras work as prostitutes in Eunuch Lane in Mumbai. They are literally indistinguishable from their female counterparts wearing their leather skirts and saris.


Since they are considered as a backward community, they have some serious lack of opportunities. For ages, the hijras have been facing discrimination in the society. With time, they have learnt to fight for equality and have started to come out. So as to achieve a third gender status.

Hijras have now started to build organizations to improve their social condition and fight discrimination for the benefit of Eunuchs, gays & lesbians and the likes.


In 2005, Indian passport office allowed eunuchs to write “E” instead of male or female.


Eventually, on 15 April 2014, the Supreme Court finally recognized the hijras by providing them the third Gender” status. This enables them to utilize the opportunities provided to the socially and economically backward classes. Now that’s something justified!


Kinnars have been deprived of the right to vote, own property or go to schools. However, in the epic Warangal corporation Election, 2016, hijras voted for the first time post their “Third gender” status provided by the Supreme Court.


The highest court of our nation recognized the need of the transgender for education and employment to boost their living standards. Being recognized as socially backward, the hijras are now allowed to take admission in educational institutions and obtain employment based on OBC category.


Some of the brave souls have been making headlines with their fights in the right direction. One such example is of transgender models like Anjali Lama walking on the ramp and creating history at India’s Lakme fashion week.


Even some of the biggest celebrities have found a way of creating awareness for gender equality to improve their lives.


So the next time you see them, please notice that smile. Even while facing so many hurdles and fights, they have the capacity to bless you, who has always ignored them thinking of them as murky.







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