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 Pandu's shoes.  Jogappas are sacred transgender men, married to the Hindu goddess Yellamma.

Pandu's shoes. Jogappas are sacred transgender men, married to the Hindu goddess Yellamma.

  As a young boy Pandu was always surrounded by women. He was brought up   in a brothel   by his mother   who was sold as a sex worker by a family friend  . Wearing his hair long he looked and felt like a girl. 

As a young boy Pandu was always surrounded by women. He was brought up in a brothel by his mother who was sold as a sex worker by a family friend. Wearing his hair long he looked and felt like a girl. 

  Pandu's alter where he keeps a picture of his mother, a sex worker. After loosing her other 10 children, Pandu’s mother prayed to Yellamma promising to dedicate him as a Jogappa if the goddess kept him alive

Pandu's alter where he keeps a picture of his mother, a sex worker. After loosing her other 10 children, Pandu’s mother prayed to Yellamma promising to dedicate him as a Jogappa if the goddess kept him alive

  Dinesh who is from a high caste family left home after arguing with his father over his refusal to get married. He found work on a building site but quickly got into trouble with other men demanding sex from him. Wanting to get away from these problems he chose the religious life of a Jogappa.

Dinesh who is from a high caste family left home after arguing with his father over his refusal to get married. He found work on a building site but quickly got into trouble with other men demanding sex from him. Wanting to get away from these problems he chose the religious life of a Jogappa.

  Pandu, a Jogappa paints his friend Sudhir's nails in the privacy of Pandu’s house. In a country where homosexuality carries huge stigma Jogappas can wonder freely dressed in saris and behaving effeminately without fear of discrimination.

Pandu, a Jogappa paints his friend Sudhir's nails in the privacy of Pandu’s house. In a country where homosexuality carries huge stigma Jogappas can wonder freely dressed in saris and behaving effeminately without fear of discrimination.

 Following a promise to the goddess Yellamma Pandu's mother allowed him to become a jogappa in a dedication ceremony at the age of 11. He lived off sex work for a few years then started to dance, earning money by performing at births and holy ceremonies.

Following a promise to the goddess Yellamma Pandu's mother allowed him to become a jogappa in a dedication ceremony at the age of 11. He lived off sex work for a few years then started to dance, earning money by performing at births and holy ceremonies.

  Rejected by his family for being a khoti, (effeminiate man who takes the female role in sex with men) Bashkar was taken in by a brothel. As a young boy he suffered from fits. A pilgrimage to Yellamma’s temple in Saundatti cured him, so he decided to become a Jogappa. Now a famous guru in the Sangli area, his father has welcomed him back and given him land to build a temple to Yellamma. 

Rejected by his family for being a khoti, (effeminiate man who takes the female role in sex with men) Bashkar was taken in by a brothel. As a young boy he suffered from fits. A pilgrimage to Yellamma’s temple in Saundatti cured him, so he decided to become a Jogappa. Now a famous guru in the Sangli area, his father has welcomed him back and given him land to build a temple to Yellamma. 

  Bashkar dances for a crowd at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival.  Jogappas are considered to be very auspicious and always dance at festivals and on holy days, earning a good living in this way.

Bashkar dances for a crowd at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival.  Jogappas are considered to be very auspicious and always dance at festivals and on holy days, earning a good living in this way.

  After Raju refused to get married his father forced him to work in the family buffalo dairy business without pay. When his father stopped introducing him as his son at weddings Raju decided he had had enough of being treated like a servant and he left home. 

After Raju refused to get married his father forced him to work in the family buffalo dairy business without pay. When his father stopped introducing him as his son at weddings Raju decided he had had enough of being treated like a servant and he left home. 

  After leaving home Raju supported himself through sex work. He lived with Dinesh, a Jogappa and saw the way that he was respected and how the system provided for him. He thought it could be a good life for him too. 

After leaving home Raju supported himself through sex work. He lived with Dinesh, a Jogappa and saw the way that he was respected and how the system provided for him. He thought it could be a good life for him too. 

  Bashkar dances for a crowd at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival.  He is very famous in the Sangli area and has 150 disciples training under him in dance and holy song.

Bashkar dances for a crowd at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival.  He is very famous in the Sangli area and has 150 disciples training under him in dance and holy song.

  As a child Raju always felt female and wanted to wear girls' clothes, make up and jewellery.  He saw jogappas around the town and liked the way they looked. The guru Baskhar decided to take Raju on as a disciple and make him a jogappa.

As a child Raju always felt female and wanted to wear girls' clothes, make up and jewellery.  He saw jogappas around the town and liked the way they looked. The guru Baskhar decided to take Raju on as a disciple and make him a jogappa.

  Raju has a boyfriend whose family have forced him to marry a woman because they want a grandchild even though they know about his relationship with Raju.

Raju has a boyfriend whose family have forced him to marry a woman because they want a grandchild even though they know about his relationship with Raju.

  Yellamma, meaning ‘Mother of All’, is the goddess of sickness and skin disease. One type of ‘sickness’ that she is particularly associated with is transgenderism; it is believed that she has the power to a turn a man into a woman.  

Yellamma, meaning ‘Mother of All’, is the goddess of sickness and skin disease. One type of ‘sickness’ that she is particularly associated with is transgenderism; it is believed that she has the power to a turn a man into a woman.  

 Dinesh dresses for the Shravan (month of August) holy festival where he will dance with the guru Baskhar and other jogappas.

Dinesh dresses for the Shravan (month of August) holy festival where he will dance with the guru Baskhar and other jogappas.

 Dinesh dances for a crowd at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival.  Jogappas are considered to be very auspicious and always dance at festivals and on holy days.  They earn a good living in this way.

Dinesh dances for a crowd at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival.  Jogappas are considered to be very auspicious and always dance at festivals and on holy days.  They earn a good living in this way.

 Sudhir and Pandu help each other put make up on. They do this in the privacy of Pandu's home. Without the protection and the respect given by the jogappa system men who are effeminate or who dress as women are not safe to be out in public.

Sudhir and Pandu help each other put make up on. They do this in the privacy of Pandu's home. Without the protection and the respect given by the jogappa system men who are effeminate or who dress as women are not safe to be out in public.

  Pandu, a Jogappa (centre) and his friends Sudhir and Vinayak dress up together in the privacy of Pandu’s house. Other than in the Westernised middle classes there is no gay movement in India. The name chosen by men who do not identify themselves as homosexual (often being married), but who engage in sexual activity with other men is MSM (Men who have Sex with Men).

Pandu, a Jogappa (centre) and his friends Sudhir and Vinayak dress up together in the privacy of Pandu’s house. Other than in the Westernised middle classes there is no gay movement in India. The name chosen by men who do not identify themselves as homosexual (often being married), but who engage in sexual activity with other men is MSM (Men who have Sex with Men).

 Pandu dances for a crowd at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival. Thanks to the fame of being one of Bashkar's disciples, Pandu never has to pay for transport or cinema or theatre tickets.

Pandu dances for a crowd at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival. Thanks to the fame of being one of Bashkar's disciples, Pandu never has to pay for transport or cinema or theatre tickets.

  Raju now feels confident wearing jewellery and a sari in public knowing he has the respected name of the guru Baskhar behind him.

Raju now feels confident wearing jewellery and a sari in public knowing he has the respected name of the guru Baskhar behind him.

 Raju dresses to go out collecting alms in the name of Yellamma. The green bangles and mangal sutra (black and gold necklace and headdress) are the traditional adornments of married women in the Hindu culture.

Raju dresses to go out collecting alms in the name of Yellamma. The green bangles and mangal sutra (black and gold necklace and headdress) are the traditional adornments of married women in the Hindu culture.

 Raju walks around the town collecting alms in the name of Yellamma, people offer food and money in return for blessings from him, because he is considered auspicious and close to god. In this way Jogappas have traditionally supported themselves.

Raju walks around the town collecting alms in the name of Yellamma, people offer food and money in return for blessings from him, because he is considered auspicious and close to god. In this way Jogappas have traditionally supported themselves.

 Jogappas Raju, Dinesh and Pandu, the guru Bashkar and Sudhir at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival.  Raju carries a statue of Yellamma on his head.

Jogappas Raju, Dinesh and Pandu, the guru Bashkar and Sudhir at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival.  Raju carries a statue of Yellamma on his head.

  Raju.

Raju.

 Pandu.

Pandu.

 In the Southern Indian states of Karnataka and Maharashtra people have worshipped the Hindu goddess Yellamma,  for over ten thousand years. Yellamma, meaning ‘Mother of All’, is the goddess of sickness and skin disease. One type  of ‘sickness’ that she is particularly associated with is transgenderism; it is believed that she has the power to a turn a  man into a woman.    Male devotees of Yellamma are Jogappas. They are sacred effeminate men who dress as women, ordained in a marriage  ritual to Yellamma, they wear saris and all the adornments of married Indian women (a mangal sutra (black and gold  necklace), green bangles, toe rings and a kumkum (vermillion) powder line between the parting of the hair.    At once cursed and divine, Jogappas are treated with fear and respect by ordinary people, knowing any mistreatment  could inspire the wrath of the all-powerful Yellamma. Their auspicious nature and their years of training under a guru  in dance and holy song make them an important presence at all festivals, births and marriages.   As a result the life of a Jogappa is seen as desirable, especially when contrasted with that of non-religious khotis  (effeminate men who take the female role in sex with other men).  With Indian society rigidly structured around  traditional gender roles and the importance of marriage and the birth of a male child, homosexuality carries a huge  stigma. Discrimination and violence against these men are experienced daily, from family members, the general public  and the police and they are unlikely to find employment other than sex work. As jogappas they live off alms and under  God’s protection they wander freely dressed as women without fear or stigma.

In the Southern Indian states of Karnataka and Maharashtra people have worshipped the Hindu goddess Yellamma, 
for over ten thousand years. Yellamma, meaning ‘Mother of All’, is the goddess of sickness and skin disease. One type 
of ‘sickness’ that she is particularly associated with is transgenderism; it is believed that she has the power to a turn a 
man into a woman.  

Male devotees of Yellamma are Jogappas. They are sacred effeminate men who dress as women, ordained in a marriage 
ritual to Yellamma, they wear saris and all the adornments of married Indian women (a mangal sutra (black and gold 
necklace), green bangles, toe rings and a kumkum (vermillion) powder line between the parting of the hair.  

At once cursed and divine, Jogappas are treated with fear and respect by ordinary people, knowing any mistreatment 
could inspire the wrath of the all-powerful Yellamma. Their auspicious nature and their years of training under a guru 
in dance and holy song make them an important presence at all festivals, births and marriages. 

As a result the life of a Jogappa is seen as desirable, especially when contrasted with that of non-religious khotis 
(effeminate men who take the female role in sex with other men).  With Indian society rigidly structured around 
traditional gender roles and the importance of marriage and the birth of a male child, homosexuality carries a huge 
stigma. Discrimination and violence against these men are experienced daily, from family members, the general public 
and the police and they are unlikely to find employment other than sex work. As jogappas they live off alms and under 
God’s protection they wander freely dressed as women without fear or stigma.

Pandu's shoes. Jogappas are sacred transgender men, married to the Hindu goddess Yellamma.

As a young boy Pandu was always surrounded by women. He was brought up in a brothel by his mother who was sold as a sex worker by a family friend. Wearing his hair long he looked and felt like a girl. 

Pandu's alter where he keeps a picture of his mother, a sex worker. After loosing her other 10 children, Pandu’s mother prayed to Yellamma promising to dedicate him as a Jogappa if the goddess kept him alive

Dinesh who is from a high caste family left home after arguing with his father over his refusal to get married. He found work on a building site but quickly got into trouble with other men demanding sex from him. Wanting to get away from these problems he chose the religious life of a Jogappa.

Pandu, a Jogappa paints his friend Sudhir's nails in the privacy of Pandu’s house. In a country where homosexuality carries huge stigma Jogappas can wonder freely dressed in saris and behaving effeminately without fear of discrimination.

Following a promise to the goddess Yellamma Pandu's mother allowed him to become a jogappa in a dedication ceremony at the age of 11. He lived off sex work for a few years then started to dance, earning money by performing at births and holy ceremonies.

Rejected by his family for being a khoti, (effeminiate man who takes the female role in sex with men) Bashkar was taken in by a brothel. As a young boy he suffered from fits. A pilgrimage to Yellamma’s temple in Saundatti cured him, so he decided to become a Jogappa. Now a famous guru in the Sangli area, his father has welcomed him back and given him land to build a temple to Yellamma. 

Bashkar dances for a crowd at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival.  Jogappas are considered to be very auspicious and always dance at festivals and on holy days, earning a good living in this way.

After Raju refused to get married his father forced him to work in the family buffalo dairy business without pay. When his father stopped introducing him as his son at weddings Raju decided he had had enough of being treated like a servant and he left home. 

After leaving home Raju supported himself through sex work. He lived with Dinesh, a Jogappa and saw the way that he was respected and how the system provided for him. He thought it could be a good life for him too. 

Bashkar dances for a crowd at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival.  He is very famous in the Sangli area and has 150 disciples training under him in dance and holy song.

As a child Raju always felt female and wanted to wear girls' clothes, make up and jewellery.  He saw jogappas around the town and liked the way they looked. The guru Baskhar decided to take Raju on as a disciple and make him a jogappa.

Raju has a boyfriend whose family have forced him to marry a woman because they want a grandchild even though they know about his relationship with Raju.

Yellamma, meaning ‘Mother of All’, is the goddess of sickness and skin disease. One type of ‘sickness’ that she is particularly associated with is transgenderism; it is believed that she has the power to a turn a man into a woman.  

Dinesh dresses for the Shravan (month of August) holy festival where he will dance with the guru Baskhar and other jogappas.

Dinesh dances for a crowd at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival.  Jogappas are considered to be very auspicious and always dance at festivals and on holy days.  They earn a good living in this way.

Sudhir and Pandu help each other put make up on. They do this in the privacy of Pandu's home. Without the protection and the respect given by the jogappa system men who are effeminate or who dress as women are not safe to be out in public.

Pandu, a Jogappa (centre) and his friends Sudhir and Vinayak dress up together in the privacy of Pandu’s house. Other than in the Westernised middle classes there is no gay movement in India. The name chosen by men who do not identify themselves as homosexual (often being married), but who engage in sexual activity with other men is MSM (Men who have Sex with Men).

Pandu dances for a crowd at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival. Thanks to the fame of being one of Bashkar's disciples, Pandu never has to pay for transport or cinema or theatre tickets.

Raju now feels confident wearing jewellery and a sari in public knowing he has the respected name of the guru Baskhar behind him.

Raju dresses to go out collecting alms in the name of Yellamma. The green bangles and mangal sutra (black and gold necklace and headdress) are the traditional adornments of married women in the Hindu culture.

Raju walks around the town collecting alms in the name of Yellamma, people offer food and money in return for blessings from him, because he is considered auspicious and close to god. In this way Jogappas have traditionally supported themselves.

Jogappas Raju, Dinesh and Pandu, the guru Bashkar and Sudhir at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival.  Raju carries a statue of Yellamma on his head.

Raju.

Pandu.

In the Southern Indian states of Karnataka and Maharashtra people have worshipped the Hindu goddess Yellamma, 
for over ten thousand years. Yellamma, meaning ‘Mother of All’, is the goddess of sickness and skin disease. One type 
of ‘sickness’ that she is particularly associated with is transgenderism; it is believed that she has the power to a turn a 
man into a woman.  

Male devotees of Yellamma are Jogappas. They are sacred effeminate men who dress as women, ordained in a marriage 
ritual to Yellamma, they wear saris and all the adornments of married Indian women (a mangal sutra (black and gold 
necklace), green bangles, toe rings and a kumkum (vermillion) powder line between the parting of the hair.  

At once cursed and divine, Jogappas are treated with fear and respect by ordinary people, knowing any mistreatment 
could inspire the wrath of the all-powerful Yellamma. Their auspicious nature and their years of training under a guru 
in dance and holy song make them an important presence at all festivals, births and marriages. 

As a result the life of a Jogappa is seen as desirable, especially when contrasted with that of non-religious khotis 
(effeminate men who take the female role in sex with other men).  With Indian society rigidly structured around 
traditional gender roles and the importance of marriage and the birth of a male child, homosexuality carries a huge 
stigma. Discrimination and violence against these men are experienced daily, from family members, the general public 
and the police and they are unlikely to find employment other than sex work. As jogappas they live off alms and under 
God’s protection they wander freely dressed as women without fear or stigma.

 Pandu's shoes.  Jogappas are sacred transgender men, married to the Hindu goddess Yellamma.
  As a young boy Pandu was always surrounded by women. He was brought up   in a brothel   by his mother   who was sold as a sex worker by a family friend  . Wearing his hair long he looked and felt like a girl. 
  Pandu's alter where he keeps a picture of his mother, a sex worker. After loosing her other 10 children, Pandu’s mother prayed to Yellamma promising to dedicate him as a Jogappa if the goddess kept him alive
  Dinesh who is from a high caste family left home after arguing with his father over his refusal to get married. He found work on a building site but quickly got into trouble with other men demanding sex from him. Wanting to get away from these problems he chose the religious life of a Jogappa.
  Pandu, a Jogappa paints his friend Sudhir's nails in the privacy of Pandu’s house. In a country where homosexuality carries huge stigma Jogappas can wonder freely dressed in saris and behaving effeminately without fear of discrimination.
 Following a promise to the goddess Yellamma Pandu's mother allowed him to become a jogappa in a dedication ceremony at the age of 11. He lived off sex work for a few years then started to dance, earning money by performing at births and holy ceremonies.
  Rejected by his family for being a khoti, (effeminiate man who takes the female role in sex with men) Bashkar was taken in by a brothel. As a young boy he suffered from fits. A pilgrimage to Yellamma’s temple in Saundatti cured him, so he decided to become a Jogappa. Now a famous guru in the Sangli area, his father has welcomed him back and given him land to build a temple to Yellamma. 
  Bashkar dances for a crowd at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival.  Jogappas are considered to be very auspicious and always dance at festivals and on holy days, earning a good living in this way.
  After Raju refused to get married his father forced him to work in the family buffalo dairy business without pay. When his father stopped introducing him as his son at weddings Raju decided he had had enough of being treated like a servant and he left home. 
  After leaving home Raju supported himself through sex work. He lived with Dinesh, a Jogappa and saw the way that he was respected and how the system provided for him. He thought it could be a good life for him too. 
  Bashkar dances for a crowd at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival.  He is very famous in the Sangli area and has 150 disciples training under him in dance and holy song.
  As a child Raju always felt female and wanted to wear girls' clothes, make up and jewellery.  He saw jogappas around the town and liked the way they looked. The guru Baskhar decided to take Raju on as a disciple and make him a jogappa.
  Raju has a boyfriend whose family have forced him to marry a woman because they want a grandchild even though they know about his relationship with Raju.
  Yellamma, meaning ‘Mother of All’, is the goddess of sickness and skin disease. One type of ‘sickness’ that she is particularly associated with is transgenderism; it is believed that she has the power to a turn a man into a woman.  
 Dinesh dresses for the Shravan (month of August) holy festival where he will dance with the guru Baskhar and other jogappas.
 Dinesh dances for a crowd at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival.  Jogappas are considered to be very auspicious and always dance at festivals and on holy days.  They earn a good living in this way.
 Sudhir and Pandu help each other put make up on. They do this in the privacy of Pandu's home. Without the protection and the respect given by the jogappa system men who are effeminate or who dress as women are not safe to be out in public.
  Pandu, a Jogappa (centre) and his friends Sudhir and Vinayak dress up together in the privacy of Pandu’s house. Other than in the Westernised middle classes there is no gay movement in India. The name chosen by men who do not identify themselves as homosexual (often being married), but who engage in sexual activity with other men is MSM (Men who have Sex with Men).
 Pandu dances for a crowd at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival. Thanks to the fame of being one of Bashkar's disciples, Pandu never has to pay for transport or cinema or theatre tickets.
  Raju now feels confident wearing jewellery and a sari in public knowing he has the respected name of the guru Baskhar behind him.
 Raju dresses to go out collecting alms in the name of Yellamma. The green bangles and mangal sutra (black and gold necklace and headdress) are the traditional adornments of married women in the Hindu culture.
 Raju walks around the town collecting alms in the name of Yellamma, people offer food and money in return for blessings from him, because he is considered auspicious and close to god. In this way Jogappas have traditionally supported themselves.
 Jogappas Raju, Dinesh and Pandu, the guru Bashkar and Sudhir at the Shravan (the holy month of August) festival.  Raju carries a statue of Yellamma on his head.
  Raju.
 Pandu.
 In the Southern Indian states of Karnataka and Maharashtra people have worshipped the Hindu goddess Yellamma,  for over ten thousand years. Yellamma, meaning ‘Mother of All’, is the goddess of sickness and skin disease. One type  of ‘sickness’ that she is particularly associated with is transgenderism; it is believed that she has the power to a turn a  man into a woman.    Male devotees of Yellamma are Jogappas. They are sacred effeminate men who dress as women, ordained in a marriage  ritual to Yellamma, they wear saris and all the adornments of married Indian women (a mangal sutra (black and gold  necklace), green bangles, toe rings and a kumkum (vermillion) powder line between the parting of the hair.    At once cursed and divine, Jogappas are treated with fear and respect by ordinary people, knowing any mistreatment  could inspire the wrath of the all-powerful Yellamma. Their auspicious nature and their years of training under a guru  in dance and holy song make them an important presence at all festivals, births and marriages.   As a result the life of a Jogappa is seen as desirable, especially when contrasted with that of non-religious khotis  (effeminate men who take the female role in sex with other men).  With Indian society rigidly structured around  traditional gender roles and the importance of marriage and the birth of a male child, homosexuality carries a huge  stigma. Discrimination and violence against these men are experienced daily, from family members, the general public  and the police and they are unlikely to find employment other than sex work. As jogappas they live off alms and under  God’s protection they wander freely dressed as women without fear or stigma.