Villupuram: Chaya Singh, a transgender from Dharmapuri, was crowned Miss Koovagam 2013 at a personality contest held at Koovagam village on Tuesday. Anushka from Andhra Pradesh was the first runner-up and Deepika from Chennai the second runner-up at the contest conducted as part of the annual Koovagam festival at the Koothandavar temple in Villupuram district.
Hundreds of aravanis who had thronged Villupuram district to participate in the 18-day-long festival arrived in all types of costumes – traditional, western, oriental and ethnic with heavy make-up and weirdo hairstyles. The festival symbolizes the mythical wedding of Lord Krishna in a female form to Aravaan, a warrior who was sacrificed for the victory of the Pandavas in the Mahabharatha war.
At the end of festivities, the transgenders would go to the Koothandavar temple in Koovagam village on Tuesday night and get the temple priest to tie the nuptial knot around their necks to symbolize their marriage to Aravaan.
The idol of Aravaan would be taken out in a procession on April 24 and burnt in the village. To symbolize this, transgenders draped in white sarees, would break their bangles and snap their thalis and mourn for the lost husband, marking the end of the festival. They return the following year to renew their bondage with the temple.
President of the Villupuram District Aravanis (Women) Welfare Association, Radha told DC that those undergoing hormonal changes voluntarily opted for gender conversion operations and Aravanis did not force them to undergo sex change. She said that it was unfortunate that some of them had turned sex workers and beggars due to poor economic conditions. A few were equipped with degrees and the State should provide them jobs, she added.