Kolkata: Breaking all religious and social stereotyping, a Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata has installed a transgender Durga idol, first of its kind in India.
Organised by Kolkata-based sexual rights initiative, The Pratyay Gender Trust, in association with a local club, Uddyami Yuvak Brinda, at the Joy Mitra street in north Kolkata, has installed an idol made on the lines of Ardhanarishvara, or half man and half woman an androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati.
One half of the idol has a moustache, a pectoral instead of a breast, smaller eyelashes, and a dhoti while the other half is the female Durga idol which is usually seen at Puja pandals.
The club has been organising Durga Puja for the last 27 years but this year they have decided to also include about a dozen members of the transgender community in the committee.
A 55-year-old transgender, Bhanu Naskar, had visualised the idol which was crafted by China Pal, only woman artisan of Kumortuli.
It was Bhanu's idea including the transgender community in the celebrations. Many local were first resistant to the idea but agreed to it after some persuasion.
"Ours is an attempt to question these practices and caste/ class structures and to cross gender lines - as 'women' and 'outcastes' - who have traditionally been barred from taking part in integral aspects of socio-religious functions such as Durga Pujas, where decision making powers and participation has by and large remained in the control of men and powerful and upper castes/ classes," said the Pratyay Gender Trust team.