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Annual Festival Of Transgender Community In December – Kich or Choodi Purnima 2024

The annual festival of transgender community, known as Kich or Choodi Purnima, in December is popular across Maharashtra and Karnataka and particularly in Savadatti or Saundatti in Karnataka, where there is a temple for goddess Renuka Devi or Yellamma Devi. The festival annually takes place on the full moon day in Margashirsh month. In 2024, the festival is on December 14/15.

With foreheads smeared with haldi and kum-kum (tumeric and vermilion powder), body draped in colourful sarees; bangles and mangalsutras adorning the get-up, members of the transgender community, who call themselves Jogtis (devotees), celebrate the annual festival of Kich, also known as Chudi Poornima.

The festival holds significant importance for the community members as they undergo a symbolic marriage to Goddess Yellamma, also known as Renuka, transforming themselves into women. The celebration involves vibrant rituals accompanied by dance and song.

This longstanding festival has been observed in Mumbai for generations, occurring in various locations such as outside the residences of spiritual leaders or their followers, both in intimate gatherings and larger congregations. Specifically, it coincides with the full moon night of Datta Jayanti (Margashirsha Purnima) in December.

The festival unfolds with members of the transgender community donning bridal attire, symbolically marrying Goddess Yellamma, and dedicating themselves to her with devotional fervor. A ritualistic havan is conducted to symbolize the goddess's demise, featuring prayers and aarti. Subsequently, they signify their widowhood by breaking bangles with stones and coconuts, engaging in expressions of grief, including crying and chest-beating.

Those who have made wishes (mannat) carry the goddess on their heads and traverse a bed of coals. Following the festival, the goddess's visage remains covered with cloth for three days as a mourning gesture. Only after this period do they perform pooja, adorning the goddess in a white saree. The mourning phase extends briefly beyond the festival, akin to mourning for a departed family member, with participants often donning white attire and refraining from joyous or spiritual activities.

This centuries-old tradition brings immense joy to the transgender community, serving as a cathartic experience to cleanse the accumulated negative emotions within their bodies throughout the year—a symbolic expulsion of unfavorable auras.