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.

7 comments:

Princessa Gianna said...

Hi I am Gianna, a transsexual/third gender living in America. The Goddess you are probably looking for is Bahuchara Mata (Bahucara Mata, Bahucura Ma, Bahu Kara Ma, etc.) She holds a sword much like Santoshi Ma, rides on a rooster, also holds an identical trident to that of Shiva, a plam outstretched to grant boons, and what seems to be a piece of paper with symbol on it.

Go ahead and google the first name I gave you and look for pics, I am sure she as the one as many Hijra worship her, as do I.

-Gianna

Sara M said...

Hi Gianna,
Thanks for the information. While I know Bahuchara Mata well, many of the blog readers may not. They are two different goddesses though and the HBO special mentioned Santoshi specifically as the reader mentioned in the email. The difficulty is that Hinduism is rich with goddesses and each village and region may have their own. In the end, aren't all the various goddesses just different forms of one? It has been years since I studied Hinduism, but that is one element that always sat with me.
If you find any specific information on either goddesses (something other than Wikipedia) please pass it on and I will add it to the blog.

Princess Gianna said...

Well as a sex-changed Hindu myself I know that Bahuchara Mata is the only Goddess that is Hijra specific and the Goddess whom *require* the impotent men to become Hijra and sacrifice their genitals to her so they will not be re-incarnated as impotent for 7 more lives. Even if they are not impotent all Hijras sacrifice their genitalia to Bahuchara Mata, not Santoshi Ma. Santoshi Ma has not one story or Myth that involves sex-changes, castration or anything of the like.

Santoshi Ma is highly worshipped by women for comfort, especially in the home. She is like a Goddess for women who are householders.

As a hindu and transsexual myself I would not see any reason why Santoshi Ma would be in any connection with the Hijra, even if an American documentary said so. However for reasons I explain below their is a lot of reason why they could have been mistaked for each other.

I could see how they could be easily mistaked however both wielding a sword, a trident, and holding a hand outstretched in benediction. However, instead of one arm holding a bowl as Santoshi Ma does, Bahachura Ma holds a stack of scriptures.

Further more Santoshi Ma has no connection that I have ever heard of to the transgender in all my years of hindu practice, nor does she ever require an offering of genitals... However I don't find any reason why a transgnder woman could not worship her.

Bahuchara Mata is the only Goddess who in specific is a protectress of the Hijra, the only Goddess who require her followers to sacrifice their genitals and live as a woman to serve her and please her.

Bahuchara Mata has many myths of her beginning. MANY. Some say she jumped into a pond and magically changed to a Prince, giving her the powers to change sexes. Some say that she appeared befor a boy whom was given as a boon to a man who wanted a son, he was born impotent and she appeared before the child demanding that he castrate himself and live as a woman to please her. He obeyed, became a she and one of the first Hijra. Another says incarnated as a Princess her husband would not make love to her, instead he would run away and cross dress and behave like a woman, so she had him castrated. Many believe in any case if the genitals are not offered that she will incarnate you as impotent for your next 7 incarnations.

The Goddess has been with me all my life and has saw my change through. She has transformed me into a beautiful woman in which none can tell my origin, and has blessed me even further with many things. I am eternally grateful.

Yes all Goddess are an emanation of Shakti, the creative power of the Universe which is feminine and gives all gods their powers and potency. Without Shakti even the greates gods would have no power.

I hope this clarifies any mistake and that also I may have provided information in which has been valuable to you and hopefully others.

Om Jai Maha Devi Shakti Ma!

-Gianna-

Sundaraz said...

Hi Sara,
I came across this posting looking for information on santosh mata temple for hijras. I suppose it is Santosh Mata and not SantoshI Mata. I was interested in this temple as I came across an article written some time back in my language Tamil. Below is the summary

There was a beautiful girl by name Durgalakshmi in olden times (not sure about the time frame). She was seen by the king and the king fell in love with her beauty and wanted her. She did not like it. She had a brother named Santosh, who looked exactly like her and was quite feminine. He said that he will take care of it and went to the king in the garden dressed like her. Curious about what was happening, Durgalakshmi also went. She was expecting the king to be fooled and disappointed, but to her surprise they were both enjoying each other and she realized that her brother is actually a neuter. She was angry at it and turned into a rooster and did a rooster sound. King and santosh thought it was morning and went away. Santosh is now worshipped in ahmedabad as santosh mata (santosh mother) in a temple by hijras as he showed the way for such enjoyment. Durgalakshmi is also worshipped as a rooster as she has also indirectly helped. Also hijras do not eat rooster meat in honour of her. The author of this article heard this story from someone and wasn't sure about its veracity as there are so many broken links. I was also curious and was looking for more information. I haven't found anything on it.

sadashivan said...

This third gender should have equal social and economic rights as other population of India. Nearly 90% of Indian eunuchs live in poverty in grief condition. Their survival is through begging, entertaining in marriages/parties, blessing newly born child, prostitution, or other illegal jobs. Although they have gained recognition as Indian national yet are far from equally treated as other population. Problem with eunuchs is that they fail to stand as one united to fight for their rights and equal treatment. Eunuchs of India must collectively raise voice for their rights to human rights commissions.

* Their recognition is possible only through provision of responsible public employment opportunities. Initially private sectors would hesitate to consume them as they are discriminated and are untouchable in public life.
* Certain percentage of reservation under constitution, as other category has, for jobs and education to promote their distinctiveness among population.
* Involving them in social security and pension scheme would secure their future.
* Laws to be framed for equal treatment so discrimination is restricted.
* Preferences of educational and economic scholarships to born eunuchs would discourage society’s discriminatory attitude. Parents would not repent of such birth.

Vistrit said...

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'!

Sara Marks said...

Vistrit,
Thank you for the clarification. I had never heard of her myself. I admit I do not know the pantheon of the gods and goddesses, but since the recognized scholars don't mention her it did seem odd.
It has been almost 10 years since I studied Hinduism, but I do recall that Hinduism's pantheon is not static. Regions do add gods and goddess (mostly goddesses) based on events and people in those communities. It was compared to the way Catholics make saints.
That being said, creating a goddess from am movie character is new to me.
I am going to bump your comments up to a post.
Sara