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.

News: Memoirs of a Rebellious Volunteer

First, let me address the source of this article- CounterPunch. This newsletter and website are known for muckrack journalism. It is not unbiased, but neither is it obviously conservative or liberal. The point is to be deeply investigative. Take this source as you will.

Our article today comes from Michael Dickinson. He shares a story of his time volunteering in Calcutta with Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. He makes a brief reference to an encounter he had with the Hijra community.

This article may not provide much in the way of research on the Hijras, but it may give you an idea of the life of other religious orders in India.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Flurry of Activity

I got a Google Alert today with a ton of different articles.

1) Homosexuality and The Indian: This article deals with the paradox in the sexual culture of India. That is that many men engage in sex with other men, but do not identify themselves as homosexual. The Hijra community gets mentioned, in my interpretation, as a more acceptable way for men to exhibit more flagrant behavior. They justify their homosexuality with the idea that they are neither men nor women. It is an interesting article.

2) Varanasi Actor Living With Eunuchs for Real-Life Experience: This article is about an actor who is preparing for a movie role by living with the Hijra community.

3) We Have Come To Earn Salvation: This article deals with an effort to convert Hijras to Christianity during the Sitalsasti festival. There was no insinuation that they missionaries were trying to get the hijras to reconsider their life-style. It seems they just wanted to spread the word of Jesus.

4) Pakistan's Window of Opportunity to Prevent HIV: This article talks about the World Bank and Pakistan's chance to prevent the spread of HIV. It is well known that the Hijra community experiences high levels of HIV and AIDS due to unprotected sex. Pakistan currently has low numbers of people infected and the World Bank want to use this as the opportunity to educate and prevent.

5) Zombie Nation: This is a fun article about Bollywood horror movies. Zibahkhana or Hell's Ground is a horror movie in Pakistan that includes a bit of pop culture from rock music to the hijras. Sounds like a fun movie.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Santoshi Mata

About a month ago I posted an entry of someone looking for more information on a goddess mentioned in HBO documentry (see the entry bellow this one). It took a while, but someone responded to the call for more information with this in the comments:
"Coming to this post the name of the godess is Santoshi Mata (not Santo Shimanta) Pronounced as follows :- 'San' to rhyme with the english word 'run', 'to' as the 'tho' in 'litho.. 'Shi' as 'she' and Mata you would perhaps recall from your visit to india. The Godess is worshipped by wives, and is supposed to protectthem and their husbands from evil/ misfortune."

I went to wikipedia (I know, this is not authoritative in any way) and found the entry for her: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santoshi

It seems as if she is not a Hijra specific goddess, but almost a marriage goddess. If someone has a more specific connection to her and the Hijra community, please share. Also, thank you very much to the anonymous poster who shared this information.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

HBO Documentry: Middle Sexes and a call for more information

I got an email this afternoon from Wade who had seen this documentary. I admit that I have been pretty lax with blog updates of late, but other things call my attention (knitting, academia, etc.). This email caught my attention for two reasons. One was that HBO had done this documentry about transexuals and transgendered people. They included some information about the hijra community. If anyone out there saw the documentary and would like to share some comments, please do so in the comments of this post.
The other reason this email caught my attention is that Wade is interested in something mentioned by one of the hijras interviewed. Here's a quote from the email:
"So, I [was] wondering if, in your studies, you have ever heard a Goddess connected to the cult whose name sounds like (it may not have the "N" in the final syllable of the second half of Her name): Santo Shimanta? ... after their sexual reassignment surgery, during their Ritual Initiation one Neophyte was lead to the [shrine] of this Goddess whom, the special noted, required the sacrifice of the former genitalia."

I did a quick and dirty search and came up with nothing. I am hoping my readers (if there are some) may have better luck or knowledge. So, please comment on that as well.