Among the lakhs of devotees and several Akharas thronging the Simhastha Kumbh currently underway in Ujjain, there is one unlikely section that is emerging as the centre of attraction for tourists and visitors – both Indian and foreign.  And with this.

While some other prevailing Akharas have been working hard to attract the visitors, it is the ‘Kinnar Akhada’ which is the major attraction at the Simhastha Kumbh this year. Contrary to the transgender community’s fight against discrimination and gender identity, such is the acceptance of the Kinnar Akhara that bouncers have had to be deployed to manage the devotees who line up to witness this one of a kind phenomenon, says a report in The Indian Express.

The interest among the devotees and visitors is understandable as it is for the first time that the Simhastha Kumbh is witnessing the participation of transgenders, who have put up an Akhara.

An image of Ardhnarishwara,an amalgamation of the male-female form in Lord Shiva – forms the setting for the Kinnar Akhara’s main stage. While the other main functionaries sit in front and bless devotees, some transgenders take turns to dance to religious melodies, the report said.

While comparing the transgenders with Hindu saints, Kalpana Sharma, a resident of Indore, said,” They are sadhus and they are beautiful.’’ She has belief that by receiving sacred rice by a transgender will bring them prosperity to her family.

The acceptance that the Akhara has received stretches beyond the Kumbh and has connotations to religious acceptance as well. “Islam is the dominating religion among transgenders, though a majority of them are Hindus when they join the community. It’s a kind of homecoming because by wearing saffron robes they have embraced Hinduism,’’ said Rishi Ajay Das, patron of the Akhara formed in October last year.

“Transgenders are sadhus in the real sense of the term because they are born brahmacharis and don’t believe in caste. They are the genuine torchbearers of Sanatan Dharma,’’ Das added.

One of the members of Akhara that has not been granted recognition said “They once enjoyed religious sanction, but lost it in course of time. By taking part in important rituals of Simhastha Kumbh, their status has been re-established.’’