‘Garima Griho’ (to home of pride), a shelter for the homeless from the transgender community in Kolkata is celebrating its fifth edition of the annual Durga Puja event this year.
The puja is unique in two ways — Devi Durga here is worshipped as ‘Ardhanariswara, who, according to the organizers is the combination of the strengths of Devi Durga and Bhagwan Shiva.
The second unique point of this puja is that the murti is not immersed, but is restored throughout the year at a corner of Garima Griho to be decked up and worshipped during the annual auspicious occasion.
Ranjita Sinha, the principal organizer of this event and a former member of the West Bengal Transgender Development Board has her own reasons why they prefer not to go for immersion. “Actually, the concept of immersion involves the pain of separation from Devi Durga and her family for a full year. As for us, we are isolated from society to a great extent. So, we do not want to burden ourselves with the additional pain of separation through immersion,” she said.
She said that this year’s Durga Puja is so special for them since two individuals from the community from abroad have flown all the way to Kolkata to participate in the event. “Besides individuals from the community, street and platform children as well as victims of acid attacks too have joined us to celebrate the four days of festivity. This year the puja for us had been an event breaking all social barriers and untouchability,” Sinha said.
Debangshi Biswas, another associate of the event, said that the good thing about this event is that it is above the traditions of patriarchy, where the priest has to be a Brahmin male. “While we all do the work together, the priest is someone from the community. Even we, under the leadership of Ranjitadi, offer Lotus together on the occasion of Sandhi Puja on the night of Maha Ashtami,” Biswas said.
Another associate, Tracy Shivangee Sardar, and a popular face in the LGBTQ rights activism in the city, said that since this puja has started the people from the community have got an annual event of their own. “In the previous years, we used to go pandal hopping, but we had to face comments from the revellers. This is our own puja, but participation is not restricted to the people from the community only. Anyone is free to attend the puja here and enjoy the festive days with us,” she said.
(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with minor edits to conform to HinduPost style-guide.)