EVERY year, residents of Hyderabad eagerly await the Nampally International Industrial Exhibition, more commonly known as ‘Numaish’ — an event catering to their diverse needs, spanning household items, clothing, toys, and more.
This exhibition serves as a platform for artisans, craftspeople, and traders to showcase their finest products to the citizens of Hyderabad, who eagerly await these gatherings throughout the year. This year marks a significant moment in Numaish’s history as two stalls are put up by members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Padala Nandini, a transwoman facing mobility challenges, has put up a stall displaying her handmade jute bags, while Gollapalli Kiran Raj, a transman, and his partner Sonam have exhibited homemade soaps. Their stalls numbered 15 and 16, are part of the SIDBI Swavalamban Pavilion, near Ajanta Gate. The artisans expressed gratitude to SIDBI for sponsoring them, as well as acknowledging Mukunda Mala - Queer Bandhu Parents Association and Neetu Nampalli, an activist, for providing this opportunity.
Padala Nandini and her friend Premleela, who also owns her store ‘Premleela Creations’ in Secunderabad, completed a 45-day training program two years ago under the Department for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Senior Citizens and Transgender Persons, Government of Telangana. This programme equips transwomen with skills in jute bag making, beautician services, and three-wheeler driving at Durgabai Mahila Vikasa Kendra, Kukatpally.
Additionally, HASSS (Hyderabad Archdiocese Social Services Society) is actively training transgender persons in jute bag making. Despite facing significant challenges, Premleela and Nandini have strived to improve their lives. With no permanent homes, they have sought to distance themselves from sex work and begging to earn their livelihoods. Premleela shared her journey, “I enrolled in the government’s training program, and after learning jute bag making, I opened my store in Secunderabad.
This transition allowed me to move away from sex work and begging, and the response to this venture has been positive so far. I aspire to learn English and technical skills to expand my business.” The duo has set up stalls at various MNCs and corporations, receiving early support from major companies like Google, Wipro, and S&P Global. Meanwhile, Kiran Raj and Sonam have been crafting a variety of soaps at home using ingredients such as goat milk, rice, rose petals, aloe vera, and glycerin. Kiran, a former government school teacher, had to resign in 2016. “I had to hide my identity while I was there in the fear of losing my job. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 had not yet come,” he said.
Although the artisans acknowledged some progress since then, they emphasised the need for more support and encouragement for marginalised groups.