KOOVAGAM: Residents of Koovagam have mixed feelings about the festival which defines their village. Although they offer food and help to devotees visiting the area, they are well aware of the dangers the crowds bring with them.
“We make extra food for the visitors for these three days. Not just transgenders, even residents from the other villages visit us on these days,” said Ayyakannu.
However, residents have a caveat. “There are a group of people who come to the festival only to steal,” said Kanniamma. “My daughter was all decked up to go the temple last year when someone stole her anklets,” she adds.
Protecting their children from drunkards is the biggest worry. “They go about groping everybody, be it a girl or a transgender. The sad part is even policemen can’t take them on single handedly. They themselves go around in groups,” said Maheshwari.
Residents claim that every year, after the conclusion of ceremonies, they hear of murders and suspicious deaths.
Caste discrimination is also very prevalent in the village. In a village of at least a thousand residents, there is a demarcated ‘Colony’ behind the main village, where several hundred Dalits live. Residents of the ‘Colony’ are made to sit outside the houses of hosts.