POKHARA, Aug 4: Nearly a thousand transgenders from 40 districts brought the streets of Pokhara as they paraded in the lake city to mark the Third International Gai Jatra Festival organized by Blue Diamond Society on Friday.
Unconcerned with the monsoon drizzle and beautifully adorned in short and fancy dresses, they danced on the streets of Lakeside, Prithivi Chowk and were joined by passing tourist at serval places along the route.
This is the third year this event has been organized and is the first time it has been held in Pokhara. Prior to this, the festival was organized in Kathmandu for the first two years. For LGBT community in the country, the festival is being increasingly seen as the day to make their presence felt and celebrate their place in society.
“Gai Jatra has become an opportunity for transgenders to reveal their real self without any restrain, and because of this many have come out without any hesitations,” said Chairman of Blue Diamond Society (BDS) Sunil Babbu Pant.
According to the BDS, the number of participants from Tarai had grown significantly and this was mainly because there was greater number of LGBT in region due to open border between Nepal-India and different social and cultural norms. "They are still bereft of citizenship on the basis of their identity even after a court decision in their favour and a decision at the government level," Pant said. "This is being closely watched by international community."
Pant however, said there was greater acceptance of transgenders by the society in Nepal which was a positive development.
“On this very day 11 years ago, we started our fight for our rights from Kathmandu with only 48 participants." Pant said. "Wthin a short period of time the number has reached thousands which is indicative of change in our society."
Raju Thakali, a local organizer and coordinator of the event ´Naulo Bihani´ said Friday´s event had helped more than a dozen transgenders come out of the closet.
Sushila Lama from Kavre, who came out as a transgender 8 years ago, was of the opinion that with the changing perspectives on transgenders, the day had given others a chance to dress up according to one´s perference and identity.
“As Newar community cherish this day in the memory of their dead and we being able to be a part of it in such an exciting way makes me very happy,” said Lama.