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PHOTOS: Meet this 'star' at Kumbh Mela

Last updated on: January 25, 2019 09:54 IST

Discriminated and humiliated for years, the transgender community seems to have finally found refuge in religion.

And the popularity of a person at the ongoing Kumbh Mela is a proof of that change.

Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a tattooed transgender leader and a former reality TV star, has become an unlikely icon at the Kumbh Mela.

 

Tripathi-led Kinnar Akahada, has become a rallying point for transgenders from all walks of life and even from across the world at the mela.

She was a petitioner in the landmark court ruling that recognised transgender people.

Last week the Kinnar Akhada became the first transgender group to bathe at the Sangam, a confluence of the holy Ganges and the Yamuna rivers on the first day of the ancient festival.

All Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

Tripathi is one of the most influential figures in the LGBT community in India. She has served on the boards of several NGOs which conduct LGBT activist work.

She has starred in several TV shows. She was a participant in the Indian television show Bigg Boss 5. Tripathi along with a legal agency had petitioned the court to recognise transgender as a third category on all documents.

The group, which had attended the Ujjain Kumbh in 2016, have been taking part in the holy baths at the Kumbh Mela this year along with the other akharas.

"Transgenders were badly exploited in the society and even their parents were forced to live a disgraceful life. Transgenders have been part of Sanatan Dharm and they have been given respectful status in religious epics and books of Hindu mythology," Tripathi was quoted as saying.

"The Akhada has provided a forum to transgenders to pursue a dignified life with religious rituals. We will build an ashram at Prayagraj," she said.

She said the Juna Akhada, a traditional and powerful Akhada, has given the recognition to Kinnar Akhada and has allowed it to be a part of the Shahi Snan.

In fact, the Juna Akhada and the Kinnar Akhada bathe together in the first royal bath.

Kinnar Akhara set up a huge camp in Sector 12 at Prayagraj Kumbh and it attracts hundreds of thousand devotees daily. Its camp will continue till Maha Shivratri. Traditional Akhadas leave the mela after taking the third Shahi Snan on Basant Panchami.

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