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How the pain of a transgender turns spiritual

For Ilaiyarani, the Tiruvannamalai temple is spiritual solace

Read in : தமிழ்

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The rights of a transgender may have been secured legally but their right to be recognized as humans in society is still not available to them. Larger society doesn’t recognize them as humans. The turf of the transgenders is invisible – society would rather have them out of sight. When they are thwarted, transgenders would rather subdue themselves and submit rather than fight. And this takes a severe toll on their mind.

Ilaiyarani, who hails from Viluppuram, doesn’t identify herself as a transgender but as an Ardhanareeswarar, an avatar in Hinduism. Endowed with guts and much confidence, Ilaiyarani explains what is at the core of transgender life to

Can we call you a transgender?
That’s the legal term with which I am identified. I want to identify myself as Ardhanareeswarar. In puranas, an avatar of Siva is Thirunangai and an avatar of Vishnu is Thirunambi. But I am Ardhanareeswarar.

Ilaiyarani, who hails from Villupuram, doesn’t identify herself as a transgender but as an Ardhanareeswarar, an avatar in Hinduism

How is your day-to-day life?
I have studied up to Class 12. I looked for a job after that. I did work in many places but had to undergo a lot of disturbance and humiliation. I couldn’t get recognition for my work and performance.

But I have to live. I need to go through this life. So every day, I come to Tiruvannamalai. I don’t disturb anyone. I go and stand in front of the raja gopuram of the temple. Whoever comes to meet me, I talk to them, give them spiritual advice. I chant mantras to ward off any evil spirits. I take whatever they offer. Whether they offer me money or not, my affection for people is the same. I don’t differentiate.

I make do with whatever I get. I take care of my mother, too, with what I get as offerings. Some people get angry and refuse to give anything. They abuse me. But they soon have a change of heart and offer to give me something. But I don’t take anything from such people. I am very particular about this.

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You say you bring benefit to others with mantras. Can you not help yourself?
No, the mantras won’t help me one bit. In any case, I have no expectations in life. I don’t have children. I should get enough to move in life. That’s all. Actually, I don’t need the mantras.

You take good care to dress up…
That’s true. Much of what I earn goes towards this. I wear a variety of bangles, earrings and so on. I buy attractive things and dress well. Few tailors offer to stitch clothes for us. They don’t even want to take measurements.

Do you face criticism for appearing to be extravagant in clothes and make-up?
We do get a lot of criticism. Even those who beg on the streets use rude and nasty words on us. We have to bear with all that. The pain is routine, every day and we learn to cope with it.

I don’t use hurtful words. I don’t see any differences among people.

You don’t have footwear?
I have a variety of footwear. If I come to Tiruvannamalai, I don’t wear them. I wear the rudraksha garland, skull bead garland and lotus bead chain. Each one is to cope with a different kind of mental pain that society inflicts on us.

I am very careful that I never become an egotist. The skull bead is an antidote to that. Every act of mine is well thought out. I don’t use hurtful words. I don’t see any differences among people.

What is your contribution to society?
Just being a transgender is my contribution. If I had been a man, I would have had children. Besides using the earth’s resources for my body’s sustenance, I would have facilitated more exploitation of the resources through my children.

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