First dalit transgender ordained as Mandaleshwar by Kinnar Akhara
Allahabad: A transgender belonging to the Dalit community, Puja was in class IX when her teacher allegedly locked her in a classroom and tried to harass her. Her shouts for help were heard by some students who freed her from the captivity. When she narrated the ordeal to her parents, they restricted her movement. She left her house in a Delhi locality after a year-long humiliation by her family members and neighbours.
Puja, 42, the first Dalit kinnar (transgender) of the country to be coronated as a ‘mandaleshwar’ by Kinnar Akhara at Kumbh on Tuesday midnight, has come a long way since.
Discarded by her family, school friends and neighbours, Puja has dedicated the coveted title to her community.
Recalling incidents from her early life, Puja said, “I was raised as a boy but as years passed, I was clueless about what was wrong with me. There was no help… only indecent comments.”
“As if that was not enough, one day a teacher locked me inside a class and tried to molest me. It was my loud cry for help that brought someone to open the door and save me. But when I informed my parents, they started abusing me and limited my movement,” she said.
“I left home to join people of my community and in a couple of years formed my own ‘toli’ (group). Since then I made sure that no transgender whom we met suffered as I did,” she added.
Puja said as Kinnar Akhara has given her responsibility as a mandaleshwar, she would make sure that the community is brought back to the mainstream of the society. She has even planned to open a school exclusively for the kinnar community in Delhi.
“A decent and religious bahaviour is the foremost criteria for selection of a person for coronation,” said head of the akhara, Achraya Mahamandaleshwar Lakshmi Narain Tripathi.
Apart from Puja, the akhara has made Sonia, another transgender from Delhi, as mandaleshwar of the akhara. The two mahants, hailing from Delhi, were coronated with the title on Tuesday midnight at the akhara.