November 23, 2011

15 Eunuchs (Hijras) Killed, 36 Injured In Fire At Ceremony In India! :o

I studied the Hidra (Hijra) community and their role in the Indian culture during my senior year at California State University, Los Angeles. Hijra's are very fascinating people and have a very long history in that region of this planet. I really enjoyed learning about them. The funny thing is I probably would have never learned about them so indepthly had I not chosen to transfer schools so I could finish faster. It was because I transferred from California State University, Northridge (CSUN semester system) that I was required to complete three "additional" upper division diversity general education courses "in residence" at Cal State University, Los Angeles (CSULA quarter system) in order earn my baccalaureate.

Believe me, I wasn't thrilled about having to take 3 additional courses so close to the end of my long 10 year higher education journey; 7 years part-time (Los Angeles Valley Jr. College), 3 years full-time (University). But that was the price I had to pay when I chose to transfer and accept the new university guidelines to graduate. On the bright side, we were given several cultural diversity options to choose from. I chose Gender Cultural studies. In the end what appeared to be a kink in my graduation timeline turned out to be a nice diversion from pure business finance economic studies. God works in mysterious ways and always knows what I'll need. ;) Oh and by the way, this was just one topic in one of the three Cultural Study Anthropology courses I had to take. To help you understand Hijra's a bit more, I've taken the following information from wikipedia:

"Hijra: In the culture of South Asia, hijras (Hindi: हिजड़ा, Urdu: ہِجڑا, Bengali: হিজড়া, Kannada: ಹಿಜಡಾ, Telugu: హిజ్ర) or chakka in Kannada, khusra in Punjabi and kojja in Telugu are physiological males who have feminine gender identity, women's clothing and other feminine gender roles. Hijras have a long recorded history in the Indian subcontinent, from the antiquity, as suggested by the Kama Sutra period onwards. This history features a number of well-known roles within subcontinental cultures, part gender-liminal, part spiritual and part survival.

In South Asia, many hijras live in well-defined, organized, all-hijra communities, led by a guru. These communities have sustained themselves over generations by "adopting" young boys who are rejected by, or flee their family of origin. Many work as prostitutes for survival.

The word hijra is Urdu, derived from the Arabic root hjr in its sense of "leaving one's tribe," and has been borrowed into Hindi. The Indian usage has traditionally been translated into English as "eunuch" or "hermaphrodite," where "the irregularity of the male genitalia is central to the definition." However, in general hijras are born with typically male physiology, only a few having been born with male intersex variations. Some Hijras undergo an initiation rite into the hijra community called nirwaan, which refers to the removal of penis, testicles and scrotum.

Since the late 20th century, some hijra activists and Western non-government organizations (NGOs) have been lobbying for official recognition of the hijra as a kind of "third sex" or "third gender," as neither man nor woman." [source: wikipedia]


Yahoo news
written by Muneeza Naqvi
Monday November 21, 2011

NEW DELHI (AP) — It was to be a rare moment of camaraderie and celebration for India's marginalized eunuchs. Thousands had traveled to New Delhi to participate in a ceremony to honor deceased friends and to pray for the health of all children.

Then a fire erupted in a huge makeshift tent Sunday night. Panic broke out and 15 eunuchs were killed and 36 others were injured, fire officials said.

The fire was likely caused by an electrical short, fire officials and witnesses said.

Acrid smoke hung in the air Monday and small groups of eunuchs were allowed to enter the cordoned-off area to salvage what was left of their belongings. Hundreds of others gathered outside to gather news of their friends and console each other.

The term eunuch, or hijra, is used in India to describe transvestites, transsexuals and others who identify themselves as neither male nor female but as a member of a third gender. Some have had their male genitalia removed. They traditionally survive by begging, dancing at weddings or blessing newborn babies and are frequently subjected to discrimination.

While the community is often mocked, their prayers and good wishes are considered powerful by most Indians.

India's eunuch population is estimated at about 700,000.

Most eunuchs are shunned by their birth families and live together in communal houses led by a guru or master.

The tent was packed Sunday and the fire caused people to run in panic, said Babli, who like many eunuchs uses just one name.

"The older hijras got hurt in the running and panic," Babli said.

Officials are investigating the cause of the fire.

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