KOOVAGAM: Thousands of visiting transgenders and local villagers mourned the ‘death of Aravan’ on the last day of the Koovagam festival, after cutting the symbolic ‘thali’.After tying the ‘thali’ in the temple, the ‘first night’ was celebrated with great pomp. The entire village was awake and scores of outsiders came to the temple to offer prayers. Transgenders danced and sang songs around small bonfires, celebrating their wedding and making their ‘spouse’ happy.
The night was also filled with many fistfights after men sexually harassed the transgenders. Police had to intervene with their ‘lathis’ to sort it out. There was also a crowd that gathered only to watch the chariot (ther) get ready for the procession the next day.
As the chariot with the idol of Aravan began its procession around the village, those who had tied the ‘thali’ began to cut it. They then broke their bangles, wore white sarees to depict widowhood, and sang songs to mourn his death. Some had tied the thali two days ago, while others had tied it the day before or even a few minutes before cutting it.
“We decided to come on the last day to tie and cut the thali as this time the hotel rates have gone up and we could not afford it,” said Sona, who had come along with a few of her transgender friends.
Meanwhile, the chariot pulled by villagers and devotees was stopped midway for more than three hours after locals picked up an argument with the police. It is alleged that police had asked devotees not to throw flowers at the chariot and this angered the crowd leading to an argument.
The procession started late in the afternoon as devotees threw flowers and coins at Aravan and broke coconuts. Everyone took part in pulling the chariot not minding the sweltering heat. The bust of Aravan placed on the chariot is the same idol found by Irulars while hunting for rats, residents claimed. They repaint the bust every year and can still find the material it is made of.