In this photograph taken on January 15, 2019, followers of the Kinnar Akhara monastic Hindu order made up of transgender members take a dip in the Sangam -- the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati rivers -- during the auspicious bathing day of Makar Sankranti at the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP)
In this photograph taken on January 15, 2019, followers of the Kinnar Akhara monastic Hindu order made up of transgender members take a dip in the Sangam -- the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati rivers -- during the auspicious bathing day of Makar Sankranti at the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP)

Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh): Scores of transgenders under the Kinnar Akhara today offered prayers, which included speedy construction of the Ayodhya Ram Temple, at the ongoing mega Prayagraj Kumbh Mela that has for the first time allowed members of the community to participate. Members of the group also took a ritualistic early morning dip in the sacred waters, considered a confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati rivers.

The Akhara, which is not officially recognised as a religious organisation, believes that their ancestors had played an instrumental role in helping Lord Rama to defeat the demon god Ravana in the epic Ramayana. In turn, Lord Rama as a reward blessed his one-time transgender war-time allies called Kinnars, and declared them gods who roamed the earth.

Speaking to ANI, Anjali Pandey, a devotee said, “For the first time we saw transgenders offering  prayers to Goddess Kali. We all were very surprised. We witnessed their Pooja for the first time. Not everybody gets such a chance, we are the lucky ones.” The Kinnar Akhara has set up a huge camp in Sector 12 at the Prayagraj Kumbh and has been attracting daily, thousands of devotees from across the country, according to officials. The camp is set to continue till Maha Shivratri and traditionally the transgenders will leave the Mela after taking the third ‘Shahi Snan’ (holy dip) on Basant Panchami.

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