Don't be mistaken, these are NO girls but MEN dressed as women, Aruvani called by Tamliens.
Aravani means in fact eunuch.
In Tamil Nadu state there are an estimated 150,000 of aruvanis. They represent everything that goes straight in to the traditional puritan morality of Tamil society where still some code even for dressing is imposed not to be provocative.
Most aruvanis are living by begging and many end up in the sex industry. They have no place in society, no rights, no job, often mercilessly harassed, mostly avoided as they could blemish the good name, the most important thing in Tamil Nadu: a good name.
Most of them are being expelled from their family, the only social security you have in India.
Lucky there are organisations that try to train them as beauticians or therapists to integrate them again in society.
The subject sex is taboo but on the other hand the cause of the high infection rate of Aids here in Tamil Nadu. You may be assured that these "ladies" are mostly very well informed and aware of this danger as soon as they meet other likewise minded persons. A lot of social organizations target especially these groups as they are often in the danger zone. Although lorry-drivers are very often in this danger zone too but harder to reach to inform.
I had the chance once to encounter several social workgroups, discussing the matter but noticed that those organizations are often easily also exploited by politicians.
When I took this shot a lot of passengers passed by skirting around shunning them, with big eyes pointed at me .... while these ladies had a lot of fun, they didn't mind at all to have their photo on the internet.
This post on occasion of the Gay Parade in Paris, homosexuality in India is still a criminal act but they don't really know how to handle these 'ladies'.
Shot taken in front of the Meenakshi Temple, center Madurai ... as reported. I know, not an easy post to react on ... but this is also an aspect of Tamil society.
Critiques | Translate
babri (422) 2006-06-23 18:26
Nice colorful shot! They look realy women!
Interesting subject you captured and well composed. I like their pose. Thanks for informative note.
MiguelP (14470) 2006-06-23 18:35
Brave photo Henk. I know about this ladies but in Delhi, I dont think there is too much differences between norht and south India in this aspect. Althought the photo has your style, the message is so powerfull that takes the lead. Homosexuality is still a crime in India, yes, but the other day I found out that in Warsow gay people has some difficulties in order to organize the parade, and we talk about the European Union. All my respects to this ladies. They are pretty.
timleahy (2195) 2006-06-23 19:17
Impressive shot Henk. you caught very nice expresions in their faces, Depth of field is very good, and good strong colours. Excellent & informative note also.
kensimage (8561) 2006-06-23 19:40
You could have fooled me, they sure look like women. Sounds like they're treated pretty cruelly. At least they are able to laugh among themselves, and look clean. It's nice that you're able to bring a little of their world to us.
Is the color slightly off here? It looks like a little too much maroon in the skin tones.
Angshu (56450) 2006-06-24 3:57
Yes Henk, it's not an easy subject to photograph, but then it's reality. There's nothing wrong about this sect at all, except that the purpose for all of it is murky. But I like your image, it's full of joy & believe me, unless you'd written, nobody would have known that these are no women
ndb1958 (9289) 2006-06-24 4:18
What a nice shot of these nice looking LADIES having fun. Looking their laughing they let me also smile and I have to look at them again and again.
I didn't know that gay activities are still a crime in India. Good note.
Nice composition full of life.
markstaples (15670) 2006-06-24 4:39
One would never know!! It's a superb portrait. Such a happy shot, very well captured. Your framing is spot on and the colour provided by their clothes is fantastic.
ChrisJ (102721) 2006-06-24 7:13
A superb daily life scene & group portrait. I like the marvellous color of the saris, & the shallow dof. Wonderful sharpness. Tfs!
coco (30439) 2006-06-24 7:57
I didn't know about the aruvanis.
A rich note, a good photo and, sure, a TE photo: learn about the world.
(my dictionary doesn't include the word eunuch... what is?)
sayan (2617) 2006-06-24 8:00
You have a strong message for the TE people through this pic. You have addressed to a problem in the Indian Society and this problem exists everywhere in India. I must say that you have entered deeply in the socioeconomic life of India, particularly of Tamil Nadu and giving us your inputs on various problems that exist here through your lens. Though there are some efforts to bring these people in the society with respect but still it is only a small step. A lot has to be done in this regard. with best regards from an indian friend..
efigesta (12188) 2006-06-24 8:19
interesting portrait here, great colors and a funny pic
s10001in (0) 2006-06-24 9:07
I Nice shot.
Well, difficult subject to take snap & to discuss their issues.
Well, I also want to suggest small correction. I may wrong but I spent many years in India & as far as my knowledge, they are nither female nor male.
Yeah, they were male but their sex changed by Arivani prist to make them "Arivani".
A common word being used is "Hijara". A nice book written on this topic is "Hijraj".
Life is total mysterious & many things are not yet clear to normal public in India.
To get the job is real issue for them.
Very neglected part like dust in Indian society.
You can see some life of them in movie called "Mid-Night secreat".
Sorry for long commnet.
Dragonheart (8414) 2006-06-24 12:45
These Hijras or Arivani seems to be very happy with you :-) All are smiling, no one is looking sad and tense :-) I think you have made their day brighter:))
jhm (142786) 2006-06-24 13:05
Heeft u ze iets beloofd om zo te lachen om dan een foto te nemen, ik heb uw nota aandachtig gelezen, en daaruit begrepen dit deze mensen ook niet zo een gelukkig leven leiden. De kleuren zijn zeer goed samen met samenstelling die zeer goed is.
adam_k (600) 2006-06-24 15:32
Very powerful and informative picture accompanied by a thorough note... and you don't seem to be exaggerating here as some Indian TE-members tend to agree with you on that subject...
Gerrit (50768) 2006-06-24 18:17
DAg Henk, een goede foto met hoge documentaire waarde zoals ook de begeleidende brief.
ZO leert men veel aspecten van een maatschappij kennen.
Dank en groeten van Gerrit
kinginexile (2598) 2006-06-25 3:43
Hi Henk, just wonderful you caught them with these big laughters, and mindless for a while of a world not quite accepting them, worse than that sometimes. It goes to show religion, practiced so vehemently in India, does not help being tolerant at all, whereas some idiots like me (and a few others, thank..God!) thought it is all and only about love, compassion and nothing else.
Diificult light conditions, but you pulled that shot expertly. the hands are almost like so many carved on ancient stones, all over the land. They provide an expressive ballet next to the theater of their happy laughter.
arnabchat (7233) 2006-06-25 8:45
an important post, in many ways! a lot of informations of different type makes the note really special.
these people still stuggle for a place in the society, and again, have their own community to sustain themselves. this is a social problem for thousands of years, and emerged as a socio-economic one in the last century.
Nice occassion to post this, Kolkata has its gay pride this week.
robiuk (10807) 2006-06-25 9:30
Great post today, Henk - not only because of the theme, but also because of the moment caught on camera - lovely group giggle!
Sometimes, when reading notes like this one, it makes me feel like living in 13th century, not in 21st!
Isn't that sad?!?
summersun (4978) 2006-06-26 3:51
I like the happiness coming out of this shot, contrasting with your sad note. I hope that mentalities will change soon and those Arivani will be accepted as any other human being like they deserve to be treated.
sabyasachi1212 (19773) 2006-06-26 3:55
You surely want to tread upon paths rarely crossed before. If the picture had come from some jet hopping western tourist, I wouldn't have bothered to comment, but you Henk have stayed in India long enough to understand intricacies of Indian society and its culture. You have touched upon a raw nerve but this is something that cannot be wished away. The only silver lining is that, there are more and more people willing to discuss this issue and efforts to integrate these people into the society has begun. I hope good sense prevails although it may take time.
thaprem (2554) 2006-06-26 6:05
Yes, Henk, It is a raw nerve you have touched, as Sabyasachi has rightly put it...
ever living the Dusk of the culture, they were never really meant to be black or white...But that grey is where very subtle monsters exist & hence the damage...
And yes, there are a lot of things being done by organisatiions, but culturally, we are far from acceptingg these Aravaaanis ( named after Aravan, a son of Arjuna, whom Krishna got him killed before the onset of war, as a sacrificial lamb- by words of the Gowravas. These people consider them to be wed to him & hence the name Aravaani).
rajhema (1871) 2006-06-27 14:33
Very touching one Henk. I have minimal information to have any discussion about the subject. Detailed note.
tjanze (5674) 2006-06-28 3:36
Those are mens? Wow! On fast photo look,I think "What a beautiful dresses they have wearing".
Very interesting photo and note.I didnt know this.
If this are beggars,they are really reach,if I see qualitiy of their dresses.Thanks for sharing.I learn something new. Regards!
keribar (43841) 2006-06-29 0:32
A way to understand is to listen to their voices. But here in the picture this would hardly be possible, but instead we can see that the group is quite in the mood, laughing and chatting, and despite their hard life they seem happy.
Friendly regards - Izzet
ratojie (341) 2007-03-02 7:56
thanks ur note
they looks happy but i donot think they live in happiness life without any rights
also like ur other photos
thanks for share
- Copyright: oochappan as (oochappan) (16582)
- Genre: People
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2006-01-21
- Categories: Daily Life
- Camera: Canon EOS 5D, 24-70mm f/2.8L, RAW
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Theme(s): Your favorites II [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2006-06-23 18:06
- Favorites: 1 [view]