news Thursday, May 07, 2015 - 05:30
Every year, Koovagam, a small town 25 km from Villipuram, Tamil Nadu, comes alive in celebration of the Koothandavar festival, a re-enactement of a Mahabharata legend about Aravaan.   Believed to be celebrated for hundreds of years, the Koothandavar festival held sometime in April-May every year is a meeting spot for the members of the transgender community across India and abroad.   According to legend, Araavan, the son of Arjuna, born out of wedlock, gave himself up for sacrifice to Goddess Kaali. However, to satisfy his last wish to be married and consummate his wedding, Lord Krishna assumed the role of a woman, Mohini, and then married Aravaan. Both the young and the old exchange blessings after tying the holy knot on Tuesday evening . Miss Koovagam 2015 title winner Praveena (left) hugged by her fellow community member before tying the thali at Koothandavar temple on Tuesday evening. A college girl (centre) takes a pictures with participants at the festival. The first 16 days are celebrated with songs, dance, beauty contests etc. On the 17th day, members of the transgender community tie thaalis and take up the role of Aravaan’s brides for one day. The last day is signified by Aravaan’s death in the story where in he is devoured by Goddess Kaali and the brides at Koovagam mourn the death of their husband by ripping off their thaalis. Koovagam's Koothandavar temple during the celebration A giant Araavan effigy taken in procession to give sacrifice on Wednesday morning. A participant in front of the Koovagam Koothandavar temple after tying the holy knot on Tuesday evening .     A camphor selling woman gets her blessings on tuesday evening at Koovagam temple.   Pictures courtesy: Karal Marx L.   Read- The changing face of the world-famous Koovagam transgender festival