The Star Online: Devotees from Malaysia and Singapore fulfil vows to deity for transsexuals (Jul 24)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tuesday July 24, 2007

Devotees from Malaysia and Singapore fulfil vows to deity for transsexuals


KLANG: The five-day celebrations dedicated to Goddess Bahuchara Mataji, the Hindu presiding deity for transsexuals, ended yesterday in a ceremony that saw some 400 participants from Malaysia and Singapore at a temple in Pandamaran near here.

The temple, dedicated to the deity whose main temple is in Shankhalpoor in Gujarat, India, is owned and managed by the local Hindu transgender community.

The celebrations began last Thursday with the highlight on the third day when devotees fulfilled vows by carrying pal kudam (milk pots) and thee chatti (earthen pots with fire).

Dressed in green sarees, the official colour for Bahuchara Mataji, the entourage, led by the community’s matriarch M. Asha Devi, 63, carried the pal kudam and thee chatti to the temple.

Two devotees balancing milk pots as they enter the temple at Pandamaran last Saturday.
This was followed by a chariot procession in the evening with Pandamaran assemblyman Datuk Dr Teh Kim Poo as the event’s special guest.

Asha Devi said preparations for the celebrations began several months ago, as arrangements had to be made to accommodate the devotees.

“Devotees also prepare themselves by fasting for at least three months before carrying the pal kudam and thee chatti,” said Asha Devi, who runs a food outlet in Kuala Lumpur.

According to her, a flag bearing the Goddess’ emblem was raised on the first day followed by an ubayam (special prayers) on the second day.

“The fourth day was also observed with prayers for Mataji. On the final day, which is today, we have special prayers for a male deity known as Veera Vetai Karar Muniandy followed by anathanam (feeding of the masses),” she added.

Meanwhile, S. Komathi, 50, who cooked for the devotees, said this year’s event was special as they were praying hard to obtain a piece of land from the state government to build a proper temple.

“The temple is currently situated in the home of one of our members’ grandmothers. Due to space constraints we cannot do any renovation,” said Komathi who owns a flower shop in Klang.

Komathi said the community badly needed a bigger temple to accommodate the crowd.

“In the past, it was only our community which prayed here but now others are also coming to the temple.”

For K. Janani, 27, who came all the way from Singapore to carry the pal kudam, the event was both fun and colourful.

“I like the festive atmosphere. I have been coming here for the past two years to offer prayers as our community does not have a dedicated temple in Singapore,” Janani added.