Ongoing Project From 2021
Hijras is a term used in South Asia for a person whose birth sex is male but identifies as a female or as neither male or female. Hijras or Kinnars (as they prefer to call themselves) are officially recognised as the third gender in the Indian Subcontinent.
This project arose when I read an excerpt from a friend and a fellow artist Niam Madlani who mentioned that in pre-colonial times the Hijras were considered ‘Closer to Gods’ that humans. This phrase made me think back to home and see how they are treated now. I got reminded of the myth that people believe at-least in Delhi, that people of this community have the ability to either bless or curse you. But I also got reminded of the fact that most of the people including myself in the past judge them very stereotypically and tend to shy away from them.
A further exploration for the past few months, made clear just how different the Hijra community has been treated in recent years. These days you end them on the intersections going from car to car begging for money, even though traditionally, Hijras held semi sacred status and were hired to sing, dance, and bless newly married couples or newborns at household parties. However you still hear stories of them being forced into sex work.
Having interacted with a few members of the community. This project is my attempt to show the beauty of the Hijra community despite the prejudices and stereotypes that the society has about them.