June 6, 2006

Eunuchs..Time to Integrate?

Filed under: India n Me,Most Read,Of men women and Eunuchs,Random,This Gets To Me — Kaveeta Oberoi Kaul @ 11:52 am

Read this report on the BBC page .

The picture that comes to mind on hearing the term “Eunuch” is spontaneously one of a garishly dressed, overly madeup, loud gestured err.. person. What never fails to mesmerise me though is that much acclaimed and popularised hand clap, which has become a trade mark, thanks to the numerous Indian films incorporating it either to add color or lend a comic interlude. It was almost unbelievably vibrant, that hand clap, and so effortlessly did they sound their arrival. No need for ring tones there. At the risk of being looked upon as ‘silly’, I’d like to confess that I have spent many an hour trying to reproduce it with the same clarity and sharpness. That I have failed miserably, may also be noted.

Are we ready to accept them from the periphery of the fringes of our society into our midst? The report, as if to woo us, shows how a serious effort is underway to ‘tone down’ their lewd gestures and made up appearances, to change tactics, as if it were, to flow into mainstream society. Will that help erase the aeon long deeply ingrained vision in our psyche? Can we succeed in marginalising the stigma associated with the abnormality of their being. Harsh ..but true.

Speaking purely from the compassionate, tolerant and loving aspect of my nature, I can honestly state..”Why ..ofcourse,I will accept them, any time.” But the question that arises is, in what capacity? Will I ever be able to view them as a friend,boss community leader, political leader, leader of their commune? If you notice each category mentioned, I inadvertently kept distancing them away from me, as if to retire back into my comfort zone. And the options that came last seemed most probable as one which would receive assent. Tell-tale..huh?

The matter under consideration should also be whether or not they will be successful in amalgamating themselves in our lifestyle and in our midst with ease and facility. Quite an uphill task , I presume. Being conditioned to live among those who unquestioningly embrace your presence, where nothing that you do, think, feel, desire is considered freaky or quirky, a zone of belongingness,well ensconced in a private parallel universe and then to open yourself to a world which has so far perceived you as a ‘thing’ that at best served to amuse, where temporarily good humored camaraderie was displayed and then wanted you OUT.. is a slippery slope. It would require guts, fortitude and a preparedness for mental anguish.. yet again.

To be born a eunuch, must require a lifetime of adjustments and conciliations. After having achieved a synchronocity with that milieu, to then extricate and present yourselves before a possibly alien and antagonistic world would be akin to bearing birth pangs all over again..

Why do we need subject them to this? Or why would they feel the desire to set out on this dauntingly Herculean effort?

Probably because the burning search for answers to the question “Why Me?” may not appear with such regularity and frequency , if they do carve a niche for themselves in our midst.

Acceptance is the cornerstone on the path to enrichment, fulfillment and eventually satisfaction. Acceptance by us, those who they probably consider the ‘charmed ones’ will turn the neon on the good that life has to offer.

Sexuality, or rather lack of it might just take the back seat in the high road of a life they deserve to enjoy as much.

Sincere efforts undertaken to reach out and touch their lives by involving ourselves in their personal stories and glories, fears and turmoils, needs and desires,will lessen, to a large extent the chasm which divides us and aid in a realisation of the commonality of the soul and its journey.

Let us begin thinking on these lines. The destination lies far ahead, the road unlit unpaved, uncharted. Let that not deter us. A little humaneness and diffidence to our conduct will help. It is a matter of proving to ourselves, we can be humane too. Perhaps we need a eunuch to help us realise that.

Global voices online has linked this post

Cross linked at Desipundit


  1. They cannot fit in… they never have n they never will. If it had to happen it wld have .If it has not means it cannot.

    Comment by Anonymous — June 6, 2006 @ 3:30 pm | Reply

  2. why do i have a suspicion that this is our old friend anonymous who thinks amir khan is a traitor!!! come out dear friend how long will you hide?

    to read chilling accounts of their experiences and pain read City of Joy or watch Darmiyaan (the only decent film that the woman made) ….i couldn’t sleep for nights…

    according to the more radical feminists there is some kind of invisible same ness to women and eunuchs…that is why germaine greer called her book ‘ a female eunuch’ and i kind of agree…
    in all mainstream film and people who think like that a man who is not macho enough (that is doesn’t want to kill and beat people as a hobby) is a hijda…
    i also used to think they are evil people who kidnap children and make them beggars…
    but growing up in delhi made me realise that they are far betetr humans than the MEN there…
    i remember when at ITO (which becomes a pick up joint at night) a man said something to sleazy to me it was a eunuch and not the *MEN* who yelled a gaali at him in my defence!!!
    would we keep them as domestic help in our homes and trust our children with them?
    i’d rather have reservation for them than caste based reservation ….but then reservations are useless as they don’t even get basic education…
    more later
    i am in office…must pretend to work now!

    Comment by silbil — June 6, 2006 @ 5:15 pm | Reply

  3. ever seen the dead body of a eunuch being taken for burial during the day time? it dosnt happen that way. they cremate their dead in the dead of the night. this is the level to which we have made them feel like outcasts. they do this not by choice, but because they forced into it , driven by the fear of disrespect.
    iv thought on these lines many times before. ive talked so easily on this issue, but every time ive failed to live up to my word. its disappointing since i see the flaw within me yet i cant help acting a certain way. is this being human too??
    i mean it can happen to anyone- a normal happy healthy couple having such a baby. its just not their fault.yet there exists an intrinsic bias in the my mind which i cant overcome. the camaraderie would certainly be a show. my inside would be uncomfortable. will try my best anyway- i will.

    Comment by Dim Poetry — June 6, 2006 @ 10:58 pm | Reply

  4. Check out “City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi” by Willian Dalrymple — in one chapter he follows a troupe of eunuchs around and details their living arrangements and “off-screen” life.

    Comment by Anonymous — June 7, 2006 @ 3:07 am | Reply

  5. Over years, I’ve got to know one such ‘hijda’ personally… S/he is the leader of a gang that comes every 3 months and collects (extorts??) money from factory owners in the industrial area that I have my factory in. Her name is Laxmi. I ‘ve known her for almost 7 years now. Over the last few years, we sit and have a cup of chai every time she comes.
    These 4 cups of tea every year for the last 5 years has helped me change my perception of them from being the pariahs of the society to possibly being the most reviled and detested sub-quadrants of human society….
    No… life isn’t easy for this group of people that the mainstream forgets are human beings – first and foremost!!

    As an aside there is this story at !!!

    Comment by Chameleon's Karma — June 7, 2006 @ 12:42 pm | Reply

  6. proud of you CK!

    Comment by silbil — June 7, 2006 @ 2:05 pm | Reply

  7. Anonymous,

    Finality is passe. Open your mind friend and let the expanse of acceptance have its say..for a change. Won’t hurt no one …never has.


    have read City of joy and seen the film Darmiyaan..gut wrenching. in fact the documentaries made on them have mostly attempted t o posture them as ‘also human’ which is understandable and I guess the safest entry point to gaining our attention. Finally it is a matter of doses, when change is initiated. Too much too soon will lead to dyspepsia. Gradual yet steady will have to be the guiding terms here.

    Dim poetry,

    I am not quite sure whether the reason for their burial/cremation a t night has got to do with the reasons you attribute. I cannot recall the exact source but remember seeing a documentary where a member of the group explained it to surmise as ‘we never want to be born again as eunuchs’ and therefore the secrecy and intrigue of the last rites. it has to do with ensuring that the Gods awaken to the pleas of a ‘never again’prayer..Sad.

    And yes that is the tragedy of the can happen to be anyones kid! But no sooner is it born is it discarded. that is why we have to reclaim our humanist tendencies thrugh those who we have hurt. Nemesis..i suppose.

    And if it takes time to accept , its not that you are less human. being aware that you are not ready is in fact the first step on the path to acceptance, as in all othere areas of life. It is when we are blind to our conduct that change is an impossibility. Not otherwise.

    Anonymous.. thanks for the tip. I would like to read some more. I have written a story on them which I will post on this blog soon.


    I am not sure they are reviled and detested..but feared. we tend to look askance with suspicion and doubt at anything we cannot truly fathom or identify with. Contributory factor has also been the sporadic news stories of crime related with the clan. Not only has this led to the bias they face from us, but also their unpopularity.

    Which in a way has served as a catalyst, if today the younger generation is seeking to rectify the situation.

    yes, I have known a few who I used to meet regularly at traffic signals, who greeted you warmly with a smile and a perfectly ennunciated English statement. If you notice they are always bright and chirpy, full of life and cheerful. As if defying the Gods and shrugging off their woes.

    I daresay we can learn a thing or two from them. We the ‘charmed ones’ who apparently have got it all , in comparison.

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — June 7, 2006 @ 2:12 pm | Reply

  8. Kaveeta:
    Great post! I have always felt for them. Whenever I am in Mumbai & bump into them, I hand over at least 100 rs. to each one I encounter. My friends yell at me that my hard earned money will be used for drinking & other vices. I dont care! The smile that lights up their faces makes my day! When we many a time feel for sinners & forgive them why not “indulge” in these unique innocent creations of God? πŸ™‚

    What exactly is a eunuch, btw? A person with no sex at all or characters of both the sexes? Can they reproduce… I ask because I see their community growing.
    I mean to know the scientifically correct answers here and not a politically right ones, please.
    Thanks, Kaveeta.

    Comment by Anonymous — June 8, 2006 @ 6:22 am | Reply

  9. mam plz see the comments section of my post on reservations. thank u

    Comment by Dim Poetry — June 8, 2006 @ 1:06 pm | Reply

  10. Anonymous,


    What is a eunuch? To the best of my knowledge, there are Four categories.
    1)born with deformities
    2)castrated as in ancient civilisations
    3)trans sexuals
    4)those merely posing to be eunuchs.

    The last category are esentially men who have taken to this ‘profession’ as an alternative to being gainfully employed elsewhere.

    And they can never reproduce.

    For further information maybe you would like to read this..
    I found it interesting.

    will do:)

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — June 8, 2006 @ 9:08 pm | Reply

  11. Great post!

    I’m not sure what would be reaction exactly – I’ll probably be pretty uncomforatable around them. But I guess once people get used to the idea… hopefully things will get better for them.

    – Swapna

    Comment by Swapna — June 9, 2006 @ 3:06 am | Reply

  12. there are more men posing as eunuchs in Delhi than real ones, one such man told an official that for him it was just a job.. this man even has a wife and family
    I met him at an AIDS awareness programme as they are a one of the high risk categories

    that apart, when I first came across a hijda as a kid and asked my mom about them , she told me they were different and that we had given them a role in society and we should accept to fulfill it till we could find a way of integrating them..
    since that day whenever a hijda party has come knocking at our door, I have always welcomed them, given them a cup of tea and asked them to perform.. but above all I have always made sure to ask their name..
    the hijdas in delhi are well organised, they have their apecified areas and give you a printed receipt, the one in our are is Sharmila a warm person whom I often meet ..
    They came and danced at my daughter’s wedding and even gave her a special blessing..
    I knwo there were a few shocked glares when recently I met her in an upmarket shopping area and we hugged each other.. and she promised to come by pwhy some day..
    she told me I was special because I had asked her name!
    We indians have a lot ofproblems accepting different people, even if they are our own: be it a handicapped child or a marginalised group.. that is why the divide and rule factor works so well
    I often say that things would change if we had a common school but how many of us would have our kid share a bench with our driver’s kid!
    acceptance has to come from the heart.. only then can it work

    Comment by project why — June 9, 2006 @ 7:47 am | Reply

  13. Swapna,

    True..I guess the queasiness stems more from the way they dress/behave. Envision someone who has foregone all these objectionable traits, someone who seems normal..well..almost and without an’in the face’manner of dressing. My bet is that we’d find it much easier to accept and gradually maybe even desist from attempting to critique the situation.

    But like you sounded your apprehensions, I think atleast there is no pseudo attempt on in the world to put on a false air of warmly engulfing them in our fold. To me this is a positive sign’.


    That bit about the receipt relly made me chuckle. It is ..what should i say.. progressive?!!

    I am not so sure however about the same school stuff. Not for the obvious reasons you might assign to it. But this ripple can ceate quite a storm for the not so economically favoured group. In fact it would highlight their plight all the more and furnish further cause for discontent. Atleast this way there is a community they can call their own. Alternatively they may end up feeling rootless.

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — June 9, 2006 @ 3:30 pm | Reply

  14. Sorry for the delay in reply..have a house full of reunion types.

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — June 9, 2006 @ 3:31 pm | Reply

  15. The printed receipt is a product of ferocious turf wars that groups of hijdas are often embroiled in. Its pretty much like organised crime. There’s a ganglord/lady/whatever who commands various sub-groups. So, if one group of hijdas comes asking for money and you’ve already paid to another group,you need to show them the receipt. If its from a group that reports to the same gang lord, its not a problem. but if its from a group reporting to another , there can be a major issue… resulting sometimes in violent turf wars between gangs!!

    Comment by Chameleon's Karma — June 9, 2006 @ 5:40 pm | Reply

  16. Organised extortion..Atleast you dont feel cheated more than once!

    Our govt could take a page from their books. Taxes are happily applied for a single product at every stage from the raw material to the end result. And then finalised with ‘local taxes extra’!!

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — June 10, 2006 @ 12:22 pm | Reply

  17. Kaveeta

    I have been a regular reader of your blog since I came across it at DC.

    I have read each and every post of yours as several of your opinions I feel the same way.

    I love reading but am noy a wonderful writer like you πŸ™‚

    I came acorss a link today and I thought I would forward it to you and maybe you can write something vital views of yours after reading it.,0035.htm?headline='I~underwent~10~abortions

    When I read this post, my heart went out to the woman concerned & am very disturbed.

    This is my request if you can post it at DC then, to create a larger awareness (since I do not have a blog),and let the world know–that there are still many poor helpless people who are supressed .


    Comment by Anonymous — June 11, 2006 @ 5:35 am | Reply

  18. Kaveeta:
    Thanks for the link. It so sad that these are born to normal parents. Wonder what is responsible for this, some mutation perhaps. Anyways.

    & 1 more thing how exactly is the word pronounced? “ewnuk” or “ewnach” ch as in cat”ch”?

    Comment by Anonymous — June 11, 2006 @ 9:59 am | Reply

  19. Anonymous…the first:)

    Thanks for reading.

    I went through the link suggested by you. It is indeed astounding. Shall write on it soon.


    Anonymous..the second:)

    The words pronounced as ..ewnukh..

    As to why it happens..will we ever have the answer to all our queries?

    frankly, is it important to have answers or questions? Is not a questioning mind , alive?

    So keep them coming.

    Love to all you guys..greatly enjoyed the interaction on this thread.

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — June 12, 2006 @ 1:04 am | Reply

  20. i agree with ‘project why’.. how do we know the difference between a real n fake eunuch ? its getting tougher by the day

    Comment by kandykane — June 13, 2006 @ 12:03 pm | Reply

  21. Kandy kane,

    That is a valid concern. in my response to anonymous on the categorisation had listed these too as almost a predominant part of what we term as ‘hijras’ in most parts of India. Economic considerations as mentioned are the paramount reason for a man consenting to cross dress as a woman, replete with behaviour from the eunuch clan. Frankly, I cannot see a solution to this aspect. As in most areas of life, when outrageous choices have been made, reason ascribed is.. ‘its all about money, honey’.

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — June 13, 2006 @ 12:45 pm | Reply

  22. How different are these from the transsexuals of say Bangkok? or cross dressers? Is it about physical deformity wholly?? Curious….

    Comment by doublebarrel — August 9, 2006 @ 9:55 pm | Reply

  23. i m a member of theatre group of college we r going 2 make a play on eunuchs i want 2 have all kind of information abt them as soon as possible frm u frenzzzzzzzzzz hope u wll help me thnx

    Comment by abhisheik singal — November 8, 2006 @ 10:49 pm | Reply

  24. I loved your article on Eunuchs. Its high time that we accept this commmunity as a part of society and not as untouchables.

    Comment by Human — September 15, 2007 @ 1:05 pm | Reply

  25. Thanks Human.. thats awfully humanistic of you πŸ™‚

    Comment by kaveetaakaul — September 15, 2007 @ 1:53 pm | Reply

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