India’s transgender minority have been a part of South Asia’s culture for thousands of years. They are celebrated in the sacred Hindu texts like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana and held powerful position in courts of the Mughal Empire.
But with the world taking a turn towards modernity, their social fortunes had changed towards obscurity. With the colonial government passing the Criminal Tribes Act, 1871 classing all eunuchs as criminal, they were ostracized from all forms of social life and mostly survived in close knit communities of their own.
In Hindu scripture third gender were seen as demi-gods and historically played important roles in royal palaces as entrusted advisors. Even in the Quran, there is an acknowledgment of gender ambiguity as part of God’s creation. Over the last few years, there have been important developments for eliminating the historic discrimination and exclusion of transgender persons; and for ensuring that they are accepted in society and given equal opportunities and access to resources. India now has a transgender pastor, banker, police inspector, taxi service and modeling agency, bringing global visibility to a formerly marginalized community.
S. S. Rana & Co. was indeed honored to have an opportunity to share auspicious Holi festivities with the third gender.