poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Confused about sexuality, they make choice

Soumik Dey

Vadodara, September 20 2004

A month after undergoing voluntary castration, five youths between 17-20 years of age, were initiated to the ranks of vyandhad (eunuch) samaj on Monday. The youths say they made the choice after facing confusion about their sexuality. The need to be financially stable was another factor.

Veena masi, president of vyandhad samaj, says the parents of the youths had signed on a Rs 50 stamp paper to legally transfer the custody of their wards to her.

Ajay, 17, and Sanjay, 20, hailing from Adhas in Anand are cousins. They say they always wanted to join the hijra samaj as they were "not destined to be proper males". "At home, I was criticised for being the way I am and for not being able to look after myself. Only my mother was sympathetic to our plight. She would come to feed us secretively after my father fell asleep," said Ajay. "A relative convinced our parents to let us join the samaj. Somebody at home got in touch with Veena masi and she came down with other elders of the samaj. Our parents signed on the stamp paper and we left with her the same day," said Sanjay. Bissuben, Ajay and Sanjay¹s paternal aunt, was present during the initiation ceremony. "They will be happier here. I live in Vadodara so we will keep in touch," she said.

Twenty-year-old Sanjay from Godhra is an only child. Now, rechristened Sapna, he explains his decision to join the samaj. "My father was a farmer. After he passed away a year ago, I had to till the land. With no brother or sister to lend a helping hand, farming became a tedious task. God has made me a man, but he has not given me the same physical capabilities. I convinced my mother to hand me over to the samaj. I told her to sell off the land and promised to send her a portion of my earnings," said Sanjay.

For Rijwan Pathan from Bharuch, now re-christened Shilpa, the situation was just the opposite. Rijwan¹s mother Mariambibi said, "Rijwan has four brothers and a sister. Ours is a poor family where everyone fends for themselves. What place would he have in the family. Do you think I would have left him here if he was capable of producing children and fending for himself? Nobody wants to employ him, instead people tease him. At least here he would be secure and find peace among others like him."

The youths were castrated in front of Bahuchara Mataji's idol, said Veena masi. "Then, we kept them indoors for a month to cope up with the operation and stabilise themselves. Today, we prayed to jad devi (water goddess) to ensure that life for them flows easily," she added.

"With these five initiations, the samaj has a strength of 30 members. Their earnings will contribute to strengthening our community."

Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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