carlo Bevilacqua

Photographer Filmmaker Creative Director / Storytelling
         
Queering India
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Location: Milan
Nationality: Italy
Biography: I'm photographer, filmmaker and visual storyteller. I started taking pictures, originally focusing on societal and anthropological photographic studies. I alternate photography and direction of documentaries and video clips. I'm based in... MORE
Public Story
Queering India
Copyright carlo Bevilacqua 2022
Date of Work Apr 2018 - May 2018
Updated Jan 2019
Topics Celebrations, Discrimination, Documentary, Dreams, Editorial, Essays, Fashion, Fine Art, Gay, Gay Rights, Gender, Hijra, Aravan, Aravani, Koovagam, Hinduism, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, Lesbian, Lifestyle, Photography, Photojournalism, Portraiture, Poverty, Prostitution, Religion, Sexuality, Spirituality, Street, Transgender, Travel, Workers Rights
Different cultures and religions have always hosted and institutionalized love and sexuality between people of the same sex; such mythologies and traditions can be found in all the continents of the planet. In India the existence of a “third gender” is recognized by religion since the Vedic times. Even today many of these people belong to the “third kind” as the Hijra in the north of India, the Aravani in Tamil Nadu and in Jogappa Karntakta, continue to live in the subcontinent although often marginalized by society. Formally recognized by law as a third gender, discrimination, lack of opportunity and social exclusion are unfortunately present in Indian society despite their presence in the culture and religion since immemorial time. Ostracized often by families and society, thanks to the recognition of the law, - recently the Supreme Court had decriminalized homosexual acts - many of them have access to fundamental rights such as education, housing and work, although they are often ridiculed and subjected to discrimination, harassment and violence. But there is a small village and a religious festival on the first full moon day of the Tamil month of Chitirai (April- May), during which, Indian transgender can show themselves without fear of hiding their identity. In the small temple of the village of Koovagam in the state of Tamil Nadu dedicated to Lord ‘Aravaan’ or ‘Iravan’, the Indian transgender, as well as the local population, follow a specific and interesting ceremonial. It is told in the Mahabharata that Aravan son of Arjuna, prince of the Pandavas, sacrifices himself to the goddess Kali to allow the father to win a war. In return he was granted various desires including that of dying as a married man but, as no woman would marry a man destined for death, Krisna solves the problem by taking the form of Mohini, sensual enchantress of Hindu mythology, marrying with Aravan so he can die happy. Many of the Indian transgender identify themselves with “Mohini” - the female form of Krishna - and considers Aravan as an eternal husband and adores him. The priests of the small temple of Koovangam bind to the Aravans a kind of necklace, the ‘thaali’ - a yellow thread covered with turmeric that symbolizes the “mangal sutra” the sacred thread that identifies a woman - thus celebrating the bond of marriage. The day after the sacrifice of the warrior god is celebrated. The desperate Aravanis, just like Mohini, mourn the death of their god/husband, with rituals of widowhood like the cutting of the Thaali and the breaking of the bracelets. Today the transgender community is changing and, alongside traditional manifestations, new awareness and behaviours are spread throughout the various  communities. There are those who dedicate themselves to social and political activism, those who make ritual dance a profession, those who are musicians, those who take care of the less fortunate and those who dream of treading the catwalks of fashion and entertainment.
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Queering India by carlo Bevilacqua
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