There was much action at the Koothandavar temple in Koovagam village on Tuesday night and Wednesday as scores of transgenders, as well as men, participated in the festival.
The thalis were removed on Wednesday morning at the Pandhaladi village as transgenders mourned Aravaan’s death, commemorating the Mahabharat scene of his sacrificed so that the Pandavas could win the war. The temple saw large crowds congregating from Tuesday evening. Hundreds of makeshift shops selling thalis, flowers and camphor were set up at Koovagam and Natham villages. Transgenders participated in the festival, where thalis were tied on them through the temple priests, after which, they lit camphor.
Similarly, two-year-old and older male children and elderly men who had taken vows to the god Koothandavar, had thalis tied on them at the temple.
Siblings Ajit Kumar (18) and Arun Kumar (9) of Periyachavalai village had thalis tied at the temple. As Arun Kumar suffered from epilepsy, his parents made a vow to have thalis tied at the temple if he was cured. “My brother was cured and is well now, so, we had thalis tied at the temple,” said Ajit.
K Srinivasan (55) of V Salai said, “I have been participating in the festival since my childhood. Every year, I come to the temple and have the thali tied. This makes me feel a lot more confident.”
During the festival, transgenders enact the scene from Mahabharat, where Mohini, a form of Vishnu, marries Aravaan a day before his sacrifice. Priests of the Koothandavar temple tie thalis on the transgenders. After this, they perform the Kummi dance and sing folk songs praising Aravaan.
Santhi, a transgender from Tiruchy, said, “While performing the Kummi dance, we sing songs praising Aravaan’s great character, skills and talents. We then request him not to go outside as something bad might happen to him.”
Transgenders spent the whole night in a festivity and on Wednesday morning, a temple car with a giant idol of Koothandavar was pulled towards Pandhaladi village from Koovagam and thousands of devotees offered prayers.
On Wednesday, transgenders gathered at Pandhaladi and mourned Aravaan’s death before removing the thali. Many donated silver and gold thalis to the temple, for which the temple management issued receipts. After the ritual, transgenders bathe and put on white sarees. Men were also seen taking blessings from them. This year saw may photography enthusiasts and students at the festival. Muthu, a techie from Chennai, said, “This is the first time I’m attending the festival. I took leave to be here and shoot pictures.”