Celebrating the bond between brothers and sisters, a group of transwomen from West Bengal observed 'Bhai Dooj' with street children in Kolkata today.
The ritual, also known as 'Bhai-Phota' in Bengal, is celebrated two days after Diwali, when sisters travel to their brothers' house and pray for their long life and prosperity.
The transwomen, all of them members of state-based Manabi Foundation, a welfare organisation for the transgender people, gathered near Kolkata's Girish Park area today afternoon and blessed the street kids by applying vermilion and sandal paste tilaks on their foreheads.
"This is an initiative to bring the marginalised and the mainstream together. Street kids often do not get the chance to have 'bhai-phota'. Also, the transwomen are not given a chance to observe the ritual as most of them are still not considered to be a part of the mainstream society," India's first transgender college principal Manabi Bandyopadhyay, who is also the head of the organisation told news agency IANS.
"This year six or seven of our transwomen gave Bhai-phota to 20 street children and offered them sweetmeats as part of the ritual. Humanity is our biggest identity. I feel everyone should have the right to celebrate such social occasions. We need more such events to help the transgenders overcome the loneliness and negligence from the society," she said.
Some transwomen of the Foundation also celebrated the occasion with a group of sex workers from Kolkata's Sonagachi, considered to be Asia's largest red light area yesterday.