2016 / Editorial / Photo Essay (Non-Pro)

The Aravanis

  • Photographer
    Arnab Adak

According to Hindu mythology 'Kalappali' is a ritual, which means sacrificing in the battlefield for ensuring victory. It was believed that whoever performed this sacrifice first and with his life in front of goddess Kali will ensure victory of his side on the battlefield. In the Mahabharata’s epic battle of Kurukshetra, Aravan, the son of the great warrior Arjuna volunteered to sacrifice himself with a wish to get married prior to sacrificing. But no woman was ready to get married for a day. Lord Krishna took the form of a lady for marrying Aravan to fulfill his desire.This episode from the epic is marked by various rituals, both ceremonial and sacred in the nondescript village of south India where, for once, those who are otherwise marginalised become part of the mainstream.Thousands of transgenders/transvestites/eunuchs from across the country gather during this epic culture, dress up as brides and get married to Lord Aravan in the temple of Lord Aravan by the priests with sacred threads around the neck and glass bangles in their hand; The very next day they are widowed by cutting their marital threads and breaking their bangles and get into white widow attires while mourning for the tragic death of Lord Aravan.