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International report

Could India's transgender community face acceptance at this year's Kumbh Mela or Festival of the Sacred Pitcher?

Participant at the Kumbh Mela
Participant at the Kumbh Mela rfi / Murali Krishnan

The Kumbh Mela or Festival of the Sacred Pitcher, the world’s largest peaceful congregation of pilgrims, is currently underway in the northern Indian city of Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh.The 50-day festival is one of Hinduism's holiest events, attracting millions of devotees and seers. Devotees believe that bathing in the confluence of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati is auspicious and helps to cleanse sins and bring salvation.This year the Kinnar Akhada (Pronounced Ak – har –a) became the first transgender group to participate in this ancient festival, traditionally reserved for priests and ascetics, almost all of whom are men.Though the transgender community has still not gained social acceptance and continues to face discrimination because of their gender identity, their involvement in this grand festival could well lead to their recognition.Correspondent Murali Krishnan visited the Kumbh to find out more.

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