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Transgender Indians appointed judges in Hindu religious festival in Kolkata

Transgender Indians appointed judges in Hindu religious festival in Kolkata

Transgender people will be among the judges of Kolkata’s Durga Puja religious festival for the first time this year as Hindus compete to build the best offering displays to the goddess Durga.

The festival’s date is set by the traditional Hindu calendar and so changes from year to year, but in 2015 Durga Puja occurs from 19 October to 23 October.

The Durga Puja festival marks the victory of the goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura and celebrates the victory of good over evil.

During the festival ritual structures with statues and ceremonial gates celebrating Durga are set up in the city and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation holds an annual competition to select the best of these.

‘There will be two bodies of judges for two tiers of screening — primary and final — and transgenders will be members of both,’ awards panel organizer Debasis Kumar told the Hindustan Times.

‘While people like Anindya Dutta and Ranjita Sinha would represent the transgender community in the primary panel of judges, Manabi Bandopadhyay, the country’s first third gender principal of a government college, would be our celebrity judge.’

Another proposal by West Bengal state Women and Child Development Minister Sashi Panja would see transgender people recruited as traffic police during the festival but it is yet to be decided.