Social Dilemma – Hijras (India)


There is a lot of confusion with the subject and I am unable to find a clear understanding on the terminologies used in various languages. Also there is no clear understanding as to what determines them to be placed into such category and how is it determined. It might be my own limited knowledge on the subject or the taboo in the society I live, that I couldn’t get a clear understanding about it. I have however tried to get some knowledge online, which seems to be even more confusing given the variety of physical deviations that can exist apart from ‘male’ and ‘female’ physiology.

However, I am not going to dwell on the physical aspect of it, since I am in no position to state any view without complete or adequate knowledge. I will prefer to tell about the interactions of Hijras in Indian Society and general life and how & when they are seen in day to day life.

The first and the foremost question however that strikes in my mind is where do they go during their childhood and teenage. How they appear suddenly into society when they are young adults. You would often see them in the following occasions when there is a new born in some family. They would visit the house, do lots of songs and dancing, bless the child, take some money and leave the place. They would also visit if someone buys a new house. They would mark the visit by placing their (amazing) names on the walls of the entrance and they would take some money in return giving blessings. During some weddings in few parts of the country, they are specially invited for certain rituals, dancing, songs and blessings.

Majorly however, they are observed mostly in Indian Railways. It is life-line of many Hijras. They would go from person to person in every coach and give blessings. In return they expect some money. Some are generous enough to give them money, while others fear their curses and hence give money. Many of the hijras are very harsh to people and they try to exploit the travellers asking for undue money, even when they are not ready to give. During festival seasons, they try to collect huge money, by harassing the ongoers and passengers. Even in every locality, they go from home to home to collect Diwali, Holi chanda and make their living.

Some of the people who go through bad experiences with Hijras, they wish if the law or police could take some action. But I believe it is a unspoken understanding between the society and Hijras, that you take away the privileges from our life and rights to live alongside the society and in return we get to be demanding and harsh in certain situations. Also since they are deprived of all the education and options for employment, it is silent agreement that people would be providing money for survival.

Somehow it seems to be really unfair on the part of treating some human, so cruelly for life time. There have been some lucky Hijras lately, who have been treated fairly, but a very large part of the Hijra community is treated very unfair. I believe it is the question on the moral fiber, social acceptance and emotional quotient of every human (male/female), that they need to think on the reason for unfair treatment to Hijras. Having said that this post has got nothing to do with the LGBT community. It is purely based on the observations and terminology used in India for the people (Hijras) whom we see in day to day life on the occasions or scenarios mentioned above.

One recent experience that I had last week while travelling in Mumbai Local, involved a really high caliber Hijra. She would go to every compartment and face towards the people sitting and give them blessings in Hindi and repeat the same in English. Her voice would certainly sound how considerate she was in choosing the words. She would repeat saying that she doesn’t want to force anyone to give money and irrespective of whether or not they give the money, her blessings would apply. She was dressed really well and had a make up with kajal/mascara in her eyes. Her hair was straightened out. So yeah, she irrespective of the world choosing to deprive of her rights, she was being a humble human trying to make her living somehow. I was totally impressed by her charisma.

Note : I chose to use ‘she’, because she closely represented a woman. I am not sure if it should be he/she or it ! I will let you read as way you would want.

So I would like to ask you, who is having moral fiber, was it her or us ? Are we being a part of some social taboo without even acknowledging ? Are we so called social animals, proving the animal part in us is still intact ? Are we humans, with humanity in a calculated fashion ? Is it all just a shame in the name of morality, humanity, emotional feelings ? What are we being in a so called culturally developed humans ?

Note : There are even more harsh realities about Hijras in society. I would dwell on those aspects only when I get some valid information and when I am in a stage to post about it. This has been kept PG for anyone to read. There might be other rated versions.

( Please share your views and opinions in the comments below )

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36 thoughts on “Social Dilemma – Hijras (India)

  1. Well, the kids, when their parents realise they are transgender, are taken by hijras to their abode and are made to live with them,learning their way of life,seeing as they are supposed to follow in the footsteps someday. That’s what I know. I can not be sure though.
    It really is a sensitive topic. And one worth going over, seeing as it affects lives of so many,them as well as everybody else around. Since their blessings are unasked for,but necessary nonetheless, people are afraid to go against their whims and demands afraid of their infamous curses. And as they obviously realise the power they yield, they, like every other human being around, are exploiting whoever they can. It’s all human nature, in my view. As for them being disadvantaged or not, since they yield the power, they have the fruit because of the power,irrespective of the ill-treatment or whatever.
    They terrify me,too,honestly. Last year when I got a new place, they came obviously. And they demanded outrageously. Like,seriously, outrageously. My father had asked my mother to give a certain amount to them. But my mother gave them what they asked for. I dunno why she did it. Maybe she was just being “generous”. Or maybe she was just worried about the curses.:/
    I dunno. But it establishes the point that they are really doing what they want to. Most of them are,atleast.

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  2. This is an interesting post ….I guess it would be interesting to know a historical perspective …as well as maybe get the views of a Hijra today …here in the uk I guess the nearest would be transgender, transvestite, or hymaphrodite.
    Transgender is someone who believes he is female trapped in a man’s body or vice versa
    Transvestite is someone who likes to dress as the opposite sex
    Hymaphrodite is someone whom it is difficult to determine the sex at birth
    Here in the UK in my experience all have lived with psychological distress when trying to fit in with ‘social norms’ and it doesn’t necessarily mean promiscuity …there are support networks nowadays in most of the larger cities …..I guess it raises many questions re who sets the ‘social norms’ anyway ….in a way India has been ahead of its time in terms of the culture being a little more accepting as my understanding is that Hijra tend to live in their own little communities within Indian society and have done going back centuries …this is only what I have read tho so it would be interesting to have a first hand perspective

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    • Thanks for your insights.
      Yes those are terms I can across but it was not so clear.

      Yes, there are stories and mentions in major Epic about Hymaphrodites in Indian Culture. Society has been on a certain level very acceptable. But overall as a human being they have to deal with rough life and they reflect back accordingly, which is a sad aspect.

      Yes, there is a group of communities established for Hijras n they live within their limited locality. It is not a well established living though, most of the time those are backward areas lacking minimum live line options.

      It was interesting to hear from your side. If you have some more understanding or information to share, please be free. It would be helpful for the readers as well as me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • They don’t get an easy ride here either ….I have worked with 2 people who viewed themselves as transsexual and one who was a hymaphrodite ….so my experience is limited …but all 3 were experiencing psychological distress ….one young man was living in a mining community ( an area where there are very traditional and stereotypical views re gender roles) ….his life was hell as you can imagine ….but his firmly held beliefs were strong ( that he was a woman trapped in a man’s body) …he was wanting a ‘sex change’ ….I’m still not sure how I feel about that personally …BUT the process is that you have to engage in psychotherapy and LIVE as a woman for 3 years before this is considered …..and if you ask me it took tremendous courage living in that particular community ….after that hormone therapy is sometimes prescribed ( which he DID have) …and then maybe gender realignment surgery ….it’s the same for Hymaphrodites ….although nowadays it’s probably a gradual process from birth as the personality and gender identification becomes more apparant …this would eliminate some of the psychological impact.
        I guess each individual’s case is different ….none of the people I worked with were promiscuous …in fact they were VERY isolated ….
        I guess my personal view is ‘live and let live’

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad someone could come with these issues in our society, you’ve explained it very well according to your knowledge about the mattered.
    You’re right, these people aren’t given the very rights as a human being and then people go on about how they come and take money from them! Well if you will deprive them of making a living, they sure would do something like this.
    Great post! 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is an important issue to talk about. Categorizing and dividing people is like a trend nowadays. But it is very important to keep morality and humanity alive in such a crisis of morality breakdown. So coming to the issue, I don’t have much information of how and why are categorized. Why they are thought or seen as different. They do have feelings and emotions. So it is important to think on this. And even I have met many in trains who were generous and happy go. They didn’t care about what others thought of them. They were happy with their lives. We all are humans and have a equal right to live life our way. Dividing them is like breaking our humanity in pieces. Have a good time Bhanu. 🙂

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