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I have now been cursed…………

August 11, 2009

I guess you haven’t officially lived in India until you have been blessed or cursed by a Hijra. Well, it is official – I live here – I have been cursed.

According to Wikipedia, Hijra is an Arabic word for migration. It means not man, not woman – they are considered a third gender. I call them Shemales. If you have ever watched Jerry Springer or seen America’s Got Talent, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you still don’t know, you can watch this youtube clip.

They are fascinating. Some people will hire them to attend weddings or other ceremonies to offer blessings. Good Hijra. They will sometimes just knock on your door and demand money. I heard of a woman who paid them over $200 to get them to leave her house. I asked what would happen if she hadn’t paid, and I was told that they would take off their clothes. Apparently that is something that it is worth $200 not to see. Bad Hijra.

I was in a car with a few friends not too long ago and we stopped at a red light.  Enter the Hijra. He she The Hijra knocked on the window. S/he knocked even louder – just in case we weren’t totally ignoring her and actually did not notice that s/he was standing there banging on the window. In case it was perfectly normal to see a man dressed as a woman banging on the window asking for money and she wanted to make sure we were paying attention. No reply. More knocking. More no replying. So, the Hijra moved on to the driver’s window.

Silly Hijra. The driver is from India and is used to seeing Hijra. Absolutely no reply. Not even a looksee.

Then it happened. We got cursed. S/he rolled her eyes at us while we respectfully marveled at her facial stubble. And then s/he shrugged her hands at us and huffed away. It seemed like s/he had some sort of bell that s/he was shaking at us too – but I was trying hard to look without looking – I didn’t catch the full curse. However, I do know that all of his/her clothes stayed on. Whew.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 12, 2009 5:44 pm

    E, you have got it wrong on Wikipedia! The Hijra (pronounced Hijr or Hijar) that it talks about is the Hijr often used in Urdu, Punjabi and Arabic poetry, mostly along with the word ‘vichora’ meaning parting! The Hijra you talk about are transgender people and their lifestyle and profession to go and give blessing in exchange of money, uaually after an auspicious occasion like marriage or birth of a new born is unique to India/South Asia!

  2. poupee97 permalink
    August 12, 2009 5:04 am

    🙂 Nice post! You do know that most of them – as I have said elsewhere – are just men dressed as women. Nothing weird to show under that sari, unfortunately. If there were something weird, now, it would be interesting to see, wouldn’t it?

  3. August 11, 2009 11:33 pm

    Badass – you and me both!

    Baba – it actually was kind of funny

    Kirk – Hey you! I am so happy you are reading my blog and I am so happy you have found the peace you so much deserve. I have a few friends that I suspect might be in the position you were in of not feeling completely comfortable about sharing their story and don’t yet have the strength to live their lives fully. I know that is a tremendous struggle and I pray that they find that strength sooner than later. Life is way too short to spend too much time not living it fully because someone else might not approve. This post is in no way a criticism of the hijra’s way of life. I cannot imagine all that they face. And I think it is lovely that they are invited to ceremonies and their blessings are considered meaningful. But if you approach a car I am in (no matter how you are dressed) and try to demand money for no reason whatsoever and then curse me for not giving it to you – it is game on my friend – you might appear in my blog.

    Nancy – Oh it was all good

    Ke – (Blushing) thank you

    Lola – you betcha – you would love it here girlfriend!

  4. August 11, 2009 9:26 pm

    Hey, it makes life a bit more interesting, right?

  5. August 11, 2009 5:24 pm

    Hilarious!

    You have an amazing wit.

  6. Nancy permalink
    August 11, 2009 2:13 pm

    Uh-oh.

  7. Kirk Childress permalink
    August 11, 2009 12:24 pm

    Transgender folks have it hard all over the world. It is not surprising to me that in India, their situation is, well, complicated, like many other aspects of society seem to be there. It seems that the hijras have found a niche that is both scorned and accepted at the same time. Which may be better off than T-people are most places in the world, including often here in the USA. Violence against transgender people is a serious problem. Cases like those of the murders of Brandon Teena, Gwen Aruajo and Lateisha Green in the US are, sadly, only the tip of the iceberg. It is apparently all too easy for some to fail to see the humanity in those who do not conform to standard gender norms.

    Knowing how incredibly difficult it was to tell my friends and family that I am gay and then learn to live an open, honest life, I can only imagine the pain and confusion felt by someone who is transgendered. Gender identity is so primal to the way we are formed as human beings, tied up with sexuality, but so much more. Living openly and honestly about being gay was very difficult for me at first, but came with such a reward of inner peace and the awareness of self-worth. But living that open and honest life as a transgender person has to be that much more difficult because of the trappings our societies have built up specifically to identify individuals as members of a particular gender and shove them into a particular classification cubby-hole: dress, mannerisms, behavior, names, acceptable professions, etc., right down to which colors are masculine and feminine.

    It seems to me that the hijras have found a way [although still a difficult and uneasy one and one that is far from being entirely of their own making] to live that open and honest life. One of the harsh realities around the world is that many transgendered folks face such ostracism that they are forced into prostitution as their only means of survival and supporting themselves. I understand that this is also the case in India among some hijra, but it appears to me that the blessing/cursing system has developed as a way for hijras to live on the margins of Indian society without having prostitution as their only means of survival. And that should count for something.

    Gandhi is quoted has having said, “I want freedom for the full expression of my personality.” It seems like a freedom to which we should aspire for all, including the hijras.

  8. August 11, 2009 12:01 pm

    LOL, so funny! Maybe all our he/she’s could go to India to make a living. LOL.

  9. August 11, 2009 7:52 am

    Interesting. I’m glad the clothes stayed on.

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