– Nadia Feroze and Jyoti Singh
A typical day at C-5, in Patel Nagar, begins at 8:30 in the morning. Dressed in colourful clothes and heavy make- up, Sita and her friends are ready for the day’s work. Sita belongs to the ‘kinnar’ (eunuch) community Traditionally, they sing and dance at festivities, weddings and birth of new borns.
As history tells us, some eunuchs were able to break out of their traditional role, and held positions of power and were valued and respected for their loyalty. Cai Lun a Chinese is considered to have invented paper and the paper making process. The Ethiopian Eunuch who met with Apostle Philip on the way back from Jerusalem was the treasurer of Queen Candace. It was Cleopatra’s chief Eunuch who introduced her to Julius Ceaser. In India, Malik Kafur Hazardinari also known as “Thousand Dinar Kafur” was Alauddin Khilji’s trusted army general.
Times have changed, and yet they have not. Eunuchs are still expected to be confined in their traditional role as performers, and find it difficult to make a place in mainstream social life.
We spent three days with Sita and her group, and captured some moments as they share their lives with us.
Sita was forced to join the Kinnar community in Patel Nagar, New Delhi, after her relatives came to know about her gender.
Most of the eunuchs are sent away from home by their parents at a young age. Parents fear, having a eunuch may create problems in getting the siblings married.
Disowned by their blood relations eunuchs share stronger ties with one another.
A eunuch is groomed by her guru and elders from a young age.
Sita and her community find themselves marginalized, with no space for a ‘normal’ life.
Eunuchs in India earn a living mainly by performing at weddings and births of new born baby boys.
A commerce graduate from Delhi University, Sita was denied a job in Delhi Police because of her gender. She does not like performing at festivities.
Sita feels that people dislike eunuchs because eunuchs tend to be forceful and abusive when they are not paid well.
Chairperson of Kinnar Bharti, a community based organisation and member of Panthers party, Sita joined politics to use it as a platform to voice the concerns of Kinnars.
She calls for Kinnars to be inducted in the police force to avoid undue harassment at the hands of male cops.
Sita demands that job opportunities should be provided for eunuchs to take care of their financial needs. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s decision to give a pension of Rs 1000/- to eunuchs above 40 years of age is not enough.
Sita gets hurt the most when passers -by pass lewd remarks, such as “Woh dekho Hijra jaa raha hai” (Look, a hijra is passing by) at her and her friends.
She demands her gender should be recognised as a part of the society.
Eunuchs do not want to be segregated.
She feels proud to be Sita Kinnar. And is happy with her identity.