BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Urdu Hindi Pashto Bengali Tamil Nepali Sinhala
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: South Asia  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Monday, 30 September, 2002, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Indian eunuchs gather in Bhopal
Indian eunuchs taking part in a procession in memory of their dead elders
Less talking and more dancing in Bhopal

Eunuchs from across India have gathered in Bhopal, the capital of the central state of Madhya Pradesh to celebrate a unique festival.

More than 2,500 eunuchs will sing, dance and make merry for several days in memory of their spiritual teacher, Haji Rahamatullah.
Eunuch on the procession
Eunuchs have long lived on the fringes of society

India has several hundred thousand of the so-called "third sex" who are traditionally regarded as auspicious.

The venue of the meeting is significant as several eunuchs in Madhya Pradesh have had a high profile over recent months.

Changing times

Shabnam Mausi has become India's first eunuch to occupy a seat in a state assembly.

And another eunuch Kamla Jaan has been fighting a court battle to retain the mayorship of the city of Katni in Madhya Pradesh.

Known as "hijras" in Hindi, eunuchs are mainly either castrated men or transvestites.

They mostly earn a living by collecting cash gifts from people on occasions like marriages and births.

But this is not what has brought them to Bhopal.

They are here as representatives of their society.

Social occasion

For eunuchs, this conference is a festival where they get to meet "their-own-kind" from all over India.


If we get into politics, who will sing and dance on marriages?

Jyoti, senior eunuch
Asha, who has come all the way from Baroda in Gujarat, said: "We don't have a son or a daughter at whose marriage we can expect a get-together. It is this festival which fulfils our wishes."

The sentiment is echoed by Rammobai, who says, "we are having a good time here and while enjoying ourselves we have also developed close relations".

Organisers of the festival said discussions were also held on certain "internal issues" but the media was not allowed to cover the debate.

There have been some suggestions recently that eunuchs are considering forming their own political party.

Participants, however, rejected suggestions that politics was discussed.

"If we get into politics, who will sing and dance on marriages?", a senior eunuch Jyoti said.

See also:

27 Sep 02 | South Asia
29 Aug 02 | South Asia
14 Jan 01 | South Asia
06 Mar 00 | South Asia
09 Mar 01 | Media reports
14 Sep 98 | From Our Own Correspondent
14 Feb 02 | South Asia
30 Apr 99 | South Asia
Links to more South Asia stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more South Asia stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes