Wednesday, August 14, 2013

It has been a few years- some updates

Hi! It has been a while. This blog has been popular, but not the focus on my attention. Let me tell you what I have going on and why I have been gone for 3 years. First, it was been over 10 years since I wrote my BA Honors Thesis about the Hijras. Since then I have gotten an MLS (Library Science) and a MA in Communication. I am working in an academic library teaching students about research skills. I have always felt this blog and my research page were my offerings to students on a topic that they would hunt for information about. My goal was to help you pick search terms, find research and enter into an academic conversation about this group. So much has changed since then. Not only is it easier to find research, but the Hijra community is part of a larger, more accessible conversation about gender roles and identity. It isn't a perfect awareness, but there is so much more awareness that I am happy. My personal research interests have shifted. I am more interested in understanding the way Wikipedia fits into the world of research. This blog is still pretty popular though and there is a place for it. While this will probably be the last post for another 3 years, I am not shutting it down. The past entries will remain here for you to review. I will also respond to any comments that come in. Thank you to those who have used this blog and if you would like to be involved in updating it, I am happy to share it with you. Please just let me know. Sara

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More on Santoshi Mata

It has been a few years since I originally posted about Santoshi Mata, but comments always seem to come in.  I, as usual, am a bit behind on approving comments.  This one was waiting for me recently from Vistrit:
"it's unbelievable..but the Hindu pantheon of gods and goddesses actually does NOT have ANY goddess by the name of 'santoshi mata'!!!
her popularity is the result of a 1975 low budget hindi move called 'jai santoshi maa'. this movie ws a blockbuster and caught the fancy of innumerable indians...most of whom r crazy abt anything to do with god.
as bizarre as it may sound..this is the trust behind 'santoshi ma'. all the hype and hoopla resulting frm the movie's success ws encashed to come up with a whole believable myth arnd this character and give her the status of a 'goddess'!"

Why am I bumping this up from the comments?  Simply because of misinformation.  We are all subject too it.  It has been almost 10 years since I did my original research on the Hijra community.  In that time I never read anything about Santoshi Mata.  I did read a lot about Bahuchara Mata and her status as the goddess of the Hijra community was never a question.  The issue at hand is Santoshi Mata's status within the pantheon of gods and goddesses.
I do recall learning that the Hindu pantheon is not static.  Goddesses, especially, are added in regions like the Catholic community does for Saints.  In other words, a woman or man does something special in the community and they might be elevated to god or goddess status.  It happens mostly with women from what I recall as goddess do not require male counterparts.  This may be incorrect... it has been 10 years.
The issue then switches too: can a movie character be made into a proper goddess in the pantheon?  I personally hope not, but then I know very little about modern Indian culture and how that plays into religion.  Also, I am a product of the West.  We don't make our movie characters into gods, but we do go a little nuts about them (Twilight is a great example).  If American culture had a pantheon of gods and goddesses I suspect we would make a movie character into a god or goddess. 
Is Santoshi Mata a proper goddess?  Who am I to say?  Does everyone always agree on religion?  I think the answer is pretty clear.  Clearly there are some who do believe Santoshi Mata is a proper Hindu goddess and there are others who disagree.  How she became a goddess for the Hijra community is even more mystifying for me.

You can see the Wikipedia information about Jai Santoshi Maa (the movie origins of Santoshi Mata) and the Internet Movie Database webpage about the movie
Personally, until she is mentioned in the scholarly communication, I remain a skeptic. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

German Student Needs Some Help

I got an email from a German student doing research on the Hijras. He could use some help from experts or Hijras themselves. The email had been edited as bit for length and spelling.

my Name is David, I'm a student of History of India in Berlin/Germany.
I'm close to finishing my studys with a final essay: Hijras- From the Mythologie till Today.

I'm trying an overview from the first stories about Hijras in Mythology, to the means of Islam, to the British and finally to modernity.

I would love to ask some Hijras, or people who stand close, a few questions.

One of my Thesis is, that most Hijras are homosexual or transgendered- which is nothing new, but that there are so many because the sexual education in India is no good and people who are homosexual and transgendered, just don't know about this things. They only know Hijras are the ones to live with if you don't desire woman and don't feel like becoming a father.
And the second Thesis is, that there will be less Hijras in future, because of the growing of sexual education and the following awareness of gender differences.

So, to put it straight:
-Would you agree that Hijras are going to vanish because of sexual education or do you think Hijra is a lifestyle more than only being homosexual or transgendered?
-Do you think heterosexual man also follow Bahuchara Mata, after dreaming of her and emasculate themself?
-Why do you think ist Bahuchara Mata the main goddess, I cant find the link between cutting of the penis and getting the power to curs or bless.
- What is the impact of islam on the hindu huijra cult? Is castration maybe a heritage from Islam?

Are you able to help David? If so, contact him directly at: and make sure you mention that you saw his email on the blog.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Making some changes

Clearly, I can't up with this blog as much as I would like. There has been tons of news coming out about the Hijra community, I just haven't been able to post it. I have a solution thanks to RSS feeds. I have set up 2 feeds for anyone to use.
1) Google News feed: This is what I have been using for years and getting the emails about news. This feed will post when a news article mentions Hijras. Keep in mind, it's not perfect, but it will get the news posted faster than me. These are typically free newspapers from around the world.

2) Academic Research feed: I pulled from an American research database, Academic Search Premier, to get articles from newspapers, magazines and journal articles ABOUT Hijras. This will post the most recent 5 articles.

There may be some overlap, but better than slow poke Sara.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Request for Help

I have received a request from Italian photographer, Chiara Goia.
Chiara is looking for organizations that work with the Hijra community in Calcutta.

Please email Chiara if you know of any organizations that can help

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Eunuchs may be licensed in Madhya Pradesh

This article has been posted from a variety of sources this morning. It features a plan in Bhopal to create a license program for the hijra community living in the area. It is noted that 5,000 hijras live in Bhopal.
The city is claiming they want to do this to be able to know who is a real hijra and is not. The aim is to cut down on the fake hijas who harass people. I am all for protecting real hijras, but I am concerned that this is the first step on a path that could lead to segregation and government sanctioned harassment for the hijras. It's something to keep an eye on, especially for those who consider themselves activists on behalf of the hijra community.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Eunuchs Do Their Bit

This article is from the Statesman an English language paper from India. It seems the Hijra community is working with the state to deal with the various issues of welfare in India. It's not much more than a blurb, but an interesting development for the community and a positive change.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

News: Kidnappers seal deal on stamp paper

Kidnapping stories are frequently heard in relation to the Hijra community. Here is another one. A young boy was kidnapped and found with a group of Hijras. The group reportedly made the father sign an agreement that he would not go to the police if the community was able to kidnap the boy again.
Here is what I am reading. Yes, a boy was kidnapped. It seems to happen frequently in the area and the cops seem useless. By useless, I mean uninterested. The article says the Hijras bought the boy from someone else. This simply insinuates the Hijras are buying kidnapped children, not kidnapping the boys themselves. While this is not a great association for the community, it clarifies these stories a bit. Also, I am not saying this activity is appropriate, but I have little room to judge. I am simply saying the constant charges of kidnapping are inaccurate and unfair in many circumstances.
Lastly, the article mentions nobody has been able to find this community of Hijras. Thus, the story is only from the father and is not confirmed by anyone else.