ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Religion and Socio-Political Violence amongst Hijras: Transgressing through Ambivalence Negotiating Power, Subjectivity and Voice


Sharma Leena - Central University of Gujarat, School for Language, Literature and Comparative Studies, Gandhinagar, India


43 – Trans/Third Gender Communities and Religion in South Asia


 The paper proposes a conceptual contribution to the neglected episode of religious violence amongst the Hijra community based on ethnographic research, in Rajasthan, and the North Eastern state of Tripura, further deducing these instances through police and judicial proceedings.

Deducing from castration rituals (Lopi) that are euphoric, induced with hallucinogenic intensity, has contemporarily become the foundational context of the community, terming the Hijra bodies as either Asli (true) or Nakli (false), based on castrated status of Hijra bodies amongst Hijra Gharanas. Though, interestingly, non-castrated bodies are kept in Gharanas for they are religiously believed to hold more power in contrast with the castrated bodies, the former cannot become permanent holders of any position of power in a Gharana.  

I argue that these models of Gharanas, operating as stationary local hegemonic centers, with strict jurisdictive boundaries, and the question of authenticity of Hijra bodies, counters intrinsic religious beliefs and traditions that the Hijras follow, inducing an ambivalent ambiguity to an already alienated state of a body, thus creating margins within the margin.

Gharana politics in utter violent circumstances amongst Hijra members, is reported to the state authorities, and further rifts surface in these systems, regarding parameters that are set for identification of bodies. The paper explores these ambiguities of lived experiences in Hijra Gharanas viz. a viz. the stat