The Koovagam village is famous for the annual transgender festival. This is a festival especially celebrated by transgender and transvestite individuals.
Koovagam village is located in the Ulundurpettai taluk of Villupuram district in Tamil Nadu. The village is located about 15 km from Ulundurpet and 25km from Viluppuram. The nearest airport is Salem. The train also reaches Villupuram. If travelling by train get down at Parikal station or west Villupuram from where the Koovagam village is nearby. The buses going from Villupuram to Trichy or from Ulnthurpet to PillayaKuppam can also take to this village.
The festival is celebrated for eighteen days during the Tamil month (Tamil Calendar) of Chitrai that usually falls during April-May.
This festival celebration happens at the Koothandavar temple. This temple is from Mahabharat’s time and is dedicated to Aravaan who was the prince of Arjun’s son. The tales say that in Mahabharata, Sahdev who was very good at predicting the future forecasted that from the Pandavas and Kauravas whoever sacrifice a warrior with great qualities to Goddess Kali will win the war. Aravaan readily sacrificed himself for the victory of Pandavas on the eighteenth day of Mahabharata. He asks lord Krishna one last wish that he wanted to get married before death. As no woman was ready to marry him knowing that he would die the next day, so the lord Krishna takes the form of a lady named Mohini and marries Aravaan a day before he die to fulfil his wish. The Koothandavar temple was so made dedicated to Aravaan.
Many thousands of transgenders from all over the India participate in this festival. They all marry Lord Koothandavar in the temple. This is supposed to be the re-enactment of what Lord Krishna did. So they all dress up like Mohini and marry him and become his wife’s. This happens on the 17th day of the celebrations when the participants dress as brides and wear bangles and tie thalis or mangal sutra which is a symbol of marriage. Next day, will be the sacrifice day as they show their grief by ritual dances and breaking their bangles and thalis. They also remove their flower ornaments. Do you want to know the Top 5 festivals of India then follow this link.
Miss Koovagam Contest
In the first sixteen days, they all celebrate with songs and dance rituals and many games. Many competitions and seminars are also held during the period of the festival for the transgenders. A beauty contest, “Miss Koovagam” also happens to the transgender people, which is now becoming very popular.
Many seminars happen for the basic rights of transgender people and their community. Their health care is also discussed in these seminars as many transgenders are related to prostitution in some way. The awareness related to sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS is also given in the seminars. The work is going on to uplift the transgender community.
Transgenders Married to Lord Koothandavar in the temple
This festival is the cultural pride for the transgenders of not only the state of Tamil Nadu but all the transgenders of India.