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Devotees from Malaysia and Singapore fulfil vows to deity for transsexuals

By WANI MUTHIAH

KLANG: The five-day celebrations dedicated to Goddess Bahuchara Mataji, the Hindu presiding deity for transsexuals, ended yesterday in a ceremony that saw some 400 participants from Malaysia and Singapore at a temple in Pandamaran near here. 

The temple, dedicated to the deity whose main temple is in Shankhalpoor in Gujarat, India, is owned and managed by the local Hindu transgender community. 

The celebrations began last Thursday with the highlight on the third day when devotees fulfilled vows by carrying pal kudam (milk pots) and thee chatti (earthen pots with fire). 

Dressed in green sarees, the official colour for Bahuchara Mataji, the entourage, led by the community’s matriarch M. Asha Devi, 63, carried the pal kudam and thee chatti to the temple. 

Two devotees balancing milk pots as they enter the temple at Pandamaran last Saturday.
This was followed by a chariot procession in the evening with Pandamaran assemblyman Datuk Dr The Kim Poo as the event’s special guest. 

Asha Devi said preparations for the celebrations began several months ago, as arrangements had to be made to accommodate the devotees. 

“Devotees also prepare themselves by fasting for at least three months before carrying the pal kudam and thee chatti,” said Asha Devi, who runs a food outlet in Kuala Lumpur. 

According to her, a flag bearing the Goddess’ emblem was raised on the first day followed by an ubayam (special prayers) on the second day. 

“The fourth day was also observed with prayers for Mataji. On the final day, which is today, we have special prayers for a male deity known as Veera Vetai Karar Muniandy followed by anathanam (feeding of the masses),” she added. 

Meanwhile, S. Komathi, 50, who cooked for the devotees, said this year’s event was special as they were praying hard to obtain a piece of land from the state government to build a proper temple. 

“The temple is currently situated in the home of one of our members’ grandmothers. Due to space constraints we cannot do any renovation,” said Komathi who owns a flower shop in Klang. 

Komathi said the community badly needed a bigger temple to accommodate the crowd. 

“In the past, it was only our community which prayed here but now others are also coming to the temple.” 

For K. Janani, 27, who came all the way from Singapore to carry the pal kudam, the event was both fun and colourful. 

“I like the festive atmosphere. I have been coming here for the past two years to offer prayers as our community does not have a dedicated temple in Singapore,” Janani added.

 
 
Mood: happyhappy
 
 
26 February 2007 @ 07:19 pm

I've decided to discontinue using this journal. I separated  things in several journals a couple of years ago, and it just hasn't worked.

I'll be adding any friends and communities from this journal to
laura_seabrook.


Tags:
 
 
Mood: depresseddepressed
 
 
23 December 2006 @ 09:54 pm

It's the day after the 2006 Summer Solstice here in Barnsley, and these are my thoughts.

I write this as I'm still sick with the flu. All I need is a few days rest and I should be fine, but for the last five days I've been out and about for one thing of another. I don't normally buy Xmas gifts, though this year I got one for myself, from money my mother sent me. I'm 49 this year, and my mum still send me money for Xmas - it's an odd thing to think about. Nonetheless it's something to appreciate, and after my father dying earlier this year I appreciate that she's still there.

Anyway, I ended up buying a 1/2 priced "super joystick" for playing with certain arcade games that I recently re-discovered. I used to have a passion for these when I was young, and would spend up to $40 a fortnight in 20c on the things, mostly at a place called Strombeckers on Barrack St in Perth. Strombeckers is gone now, torn down and replaced with part of a hotel - at least it way when I was in Perth for my father's funeral. Just right now I seem to be re-discovering these simple joys. And why not?

Of course in the Southern Hemisphere the Summer Solstice coincides with Xmas, which never quite matches. I read recently that December 25th was originally the official birthday of Sol Invictus - an ancient sun god from the Levant. Constantine, the first of the Roman Emperors to officially tolerate (and also to largely support) Christianity synchronised both the Sun with "the Son" (Jesus) and declared that that start of the week should be the day of the Sun, or "Sunday". I found this out while researching for the current strip at my web comics - Tales of the Galli.

This is set c. 316 AD in Rome. Constantine has just won the battle of the Milvian bridge, and the title characters are members of the temple complex known as the Metro'on, the main temple of Cybele in Rome. I had been waiting to start this strip for a while and really had to wait until I'd finished my Honours course at university. My exhibition of my Trans Tarot Deck was held and I had a generally favourable response. After two years the course is finally complete, and all I do now is await my results.

A funny thing that, as the last four years were all study - first two years of a Library degree, and then 2 years of Honours. Off and on, I've been a student since 1997, and for now that's over. I just have no plans of further study right now. To do my masters I'll need inspiration, energy and an idea. Right now I feel a bit washed out on all three.

This year has been a year of changes and events, and a year where it seems that many things ended for me.

I've travelled to America and Perth, and visited friends in Sydney. It was the year my father finally died, and the year when I didn't struggle to keep my car on the road (officially out of registration now). Over the last two years pets have died or gone. Mutzy and one of the goats next door died last year, and the 2nd goat went this year. Some of the dogs in the street that always bark at Pegasus and myself when we go for a walk, have gone. I gave away my ducks last year, and today it's almost exactly a year. I miss some of them (like old Howard)still, but I couldn't bear the stress of keeping them any longer.

But with some things going, new possibilities came to be. Almost out of the blue I had a boarder. He's still here after 3 months, and we seem to be getting on together much better now - perhaps we've started to define our boundaries. With my board came the financial ability to (finally) afford broadband, and with it a new e-mail address. I'm still a member of Hunter Apana (for now), but what a difference (now we each have a working computer) it is to have Internet access at any time, without using my regular phone link, and to have relatively quick access.

Luxuries of course, but one which (for now) I can afford. And with the Summer Solstice, my thoughts go towards the result, the crop, the dividend of ones efforts or experiences, of what (relatively) for me is the "good life". For the most part in the last three months, I've been able to pay my bills, and still have money left over for other things. Some of this has gone on computer stuff, like broadband and new graphics cards, and the net effect is to make my use of the computer easier, happier, and more productive.

There are other things to consider of course - I need my lawnmower either replaced or repaired, and the gutters and other parts of the house need fixing. But maybe these can now be saved for. Maybe. And maybe in one way or another I might get a replacement vehicle. the other week I saw the Rauni's twin sitting in a used car lot. It's in much better condition, and would be mine for $1500, though just now I can't afford that. But for now I'm surviving without it.

Still, next year I hope will bring new ideas and challenges. I need to start several projects that have been on hold for the last four years. One or two books for example. And maybe, if I can swing it, some form of employment. We'll see what comes, for that will be the start of a new cycle for me.

So this time around, I'm not feeling as lonely as I have in previous years, not so desperate financially, not so isolated. In fact this time around I might even enjoy myself!

It's nice to have that feeling.

 
 
Mood: contemplativecontemplative
 
 
05 November 2006 @ 12:46 pm

I put off this contemplation - I had to - it was hard for me to get to my PC, as a have a new boarder.

This has created a number of (hopefully) short term disruptions and difficulties (for example, I just discovered that due to a failed upgrade to Win 2000 by my boarder, all my Internet bookmarks are gone) After five years of living by my own this is understandable. The main thing is in making an adjustment, and an equitable one at that. I'll come back to this later.

So, what's my focus this for Beltaine this time around? Beltaine is all about sexuality, fertility, growth, and change. And all that (minus the sexuality) is right where I am just now.

I'm at the end of one cycle in my life, and starting another. Kevin (my boarder) pointed this out to me a while ago. I mentioned to him that I considered my gender transition to start on 30th September 1996 (the date my change-of-name came through). We met just at the start of October this year, so that period is roughly a twelve year cycle. And there are lots of things that conform with this idea.

Last week saw the (finally) the opening of the honours exhibition where my work "A Trans Tarot Deck" was (and currently still is) displayed. The work features an allegorical major arcana of 23 cards (it has two death cards: suicide and murder), each poster size and depicting an aspect of gender transition. Most of this I mentioned in my last contemplation. This time however, the work was not only completed, but up! The research paper was completed and assessment of my honours work will take place soon.

And I'm not worried at all.

I've stuck to my vision, and the result was exactly what I wanted. At the opening I received many favourable comments about the work. For me this has always been a work about myself, and people like me; but it has also been a religious work as well, reflecting my beliefs as a Gallae of Cybele, the Magna mater (and yes, She's in the deck as well, the equivalent of the Strength / Fortitude card).

And with the completion of my Honours this year, another cycle is ending. Not that I won't be doing my Masters or beyond, but university and education has been a big focus in my life since 1997, when I started my bachelor's in Visual Arts. But I feel my artistic training (for better or worse) is complete, and anything further will be for different reasons and purposes.

Next year my focus and intent will be different. I hope to exhibit my work in Sydney and Melbourne, and there seems to be a demand for an actual deck based on it (A5 size, probably). I need to look to my home and household, repairing and restoring parts of that (e.g fixing the gutters) and starting to transform my backyard to the way I know it can be (including founding a Maetreum, or Temple to Cybele). Mother is sending me hints that it's time to return to work, to get employment.

The idea of re-entering the workforce scares me. I was a public servant for almost 20 years and I swore blue when I left that I'd never  have another 9-5 weekday mediocre "job". But that still leaves a lot of possibilities, such as part-time and casual work. My ideal would be doing more than one thing, and having enough time at home to focus on my pets and projects. There's more artworks to come, and at least two books in me, but they all take time and money to create. And I won't have that merely by subsisting on a disability allowance, boarder notwithstanding.

I'm trained as a library technician, and though that training is now two years out of date, I also know that it's work I enjoy. Applying for work however scares the shit out of me, as it always feels like I'm being judged, which I am. My last attempt a professional Tarot reading met with mixed results - it was successful last year (when it was fun) and dried up this year (when I started relying on it). I have other skills and ideas that I can pursue, but they need to be carefully explored.

To do any of that easily however means getting another car. I've already said goodbye emotionally the Kushti Rauni, my current car. there's just too much wrong with her for me to fix, and even if I did she would continue to have problems. No, in order to do any of the above, I need a replacement - one that will be economical and reliable, at least for a while. I know now that I can and will do without a car - they are not an absolute necessity here - but making some things happen, I will need a car I can use sometimes, if not all the time.

Having a boarder makes a difference. Kevin is also on a disability allowance due to hyper-mobility and other reasons. It means that extended walking is difficult for him, so having a car makes things easier all round. Apart from that, his presence changes other things too. I'm having to lift my standards as far as housework, and other things go. An unclean and untidy house might be OK for just one depressed person and her pets, but not OK when there's a second person who needs at least a reasonably clean environment to avoid infections.

Early days yet. Kevin is a computer technician, and needs his computers to keep him sane (I think). There's only one in the house, and I have only a dial-up connection too. But this will change. Kevin will recover his computers from Sydney and elsewhere. I'm (using a certain portion of the rent) upgrading to broadband) and we will have a local network here, and I will get a static address and permanent home for my website(s). Early day yet, but for once I have company, and a second hand to make things work, and ease the days.

Of all the things I've missed here being alone, it's been company. Pegasus and the cats are OK, but they can't talk back. There's pros and cons to that of course. Kevin and I have had a number of heated disputes, but part of that is getting to know each other (and learning how to respect the other), and things are still not right, and very hectic here. I've had to focus on finishing my Honours, and been "on the go" almost continuously. We've both had toothaches and had teeth extracted, more or less at the same time (and mine was only half done - the rest comes out on Wednesday)! Last Thursday I broke down over at Jenn's as the pressure was just too much.

None of this makes for easy living, but only just now. The house is gradually getting cleaned, furniture moved and things done. But none of it can be done quickly. Kevin cooks (and cooks very well) and I do the dishes. But the last week I was so stuffed each night that I never got around to it. From this week, it gets done daily. Stuff like this is being resolved, but it all takes time. Life goes on, and I will be through this shortly.

So, that's where I am - at the end of one cycle (my gender transition is now complete), and the start of another. There's all those possibilities out there, and this time around I have definite ideas of what  I want and need to do. And that's all about possibilities, a fertility of ideas and potential. What more could I want?

Tags:
 
 
Mood: optimisticoptimistic
 
 
30 September 2006 @ 12:18 am

The Spring Equinox was last Thursday, and normally I'd post my contemplations on or soon after that date, but my net server has been down until today (the following Friday). As it happens, this was a good thing.

Last Thursday I was not in a good state. For the last 21 months I've been working on my Honours project - A Trans Tarot Deck. This was a way of focussing on aspects of "gender transition" by using the major arcana as an allegorical platform to do so. The "cards" themselves measure 52 x 74 cm each and together form a coherent whole (see the Trans Tarot Deck page at my Web Comics site). As a trans woman, a tarot reader, and a Gallae of Cybele I knew that this was the right project for me to do.

But last Thursday I'd been working on a 23rd card of a 22 card set. That extra card was a second death card - the first one showed a suicide - the extra card showed murdered victims of trans hate crimes. But, before putting any of the images on the card, I had to research the people whose images  was borrowing. And more I did so, the more sorrow I felt over the shootings, beating, strangulations, burnings and even torture of these people.

Not a good way to spend the Spring Equinox, perhaps.

Traditionally the Equinox is associated with awakenings, strong growth, resurgence and resurrection, transformations and different forms of fertility. And death and murder isn't something one immediately thinks of when one thinks of the Equinox. And yet, it is oddly appropriate.

I consider A Trans Tarot Deck to be my first "serious" Art Project. I've created various artworks before, but this time I've achieved exactly what I wanted, to a desired quality and effect. As I write this, the final cards have been printed, and though I still have much to do (mount the digital prints and exhibit them) the main part of this project has been completed. And yet it wouldn't have been possible without various forms of death playing a part.

Earlier this year I travelled to the Maetreum of Cybele in upstate New York to participate with other Gallae in the "Festival of the Tree". This is a revived ancient ritual reflecting the myth of Cybele and Attis, of Attis's death and resurrection and subsequent transformation. At the festival I was asked for what I wanted from it. My answer was "ego death and rebirth" and that was exactly what I got.

At the concluding ritual (and energy raising circle) I was struck by Mother's Hand and collapsed in a form of religious ecstasy. I recovered and returned home, and shortly afterwards fell into deep depression! While the festival had been great, my problems remained when I returned. But this time rather than wallow in them, I contemplated each in turn, and in doing so reached a calm and equilibrium that I have seldom felt. It gave me renewed strength and determination, especially in the pursuit of the project.

That was death number one - an "ego death" (and rebirth as a stronger person) for me. The second death was that of my Father, who died in August, just after he'd been counted in the Census. I was upset, but after spending six years in slow decline in a nursing home after a double stroke on his birthday, death was a release for my father.

Flying back to Perth for the funeral, I had a mixed experience. While I was sad and upset about his passing, I met relatives whom I'd not seen for years (including a favourite niece). And I had confirmation of something I'd known since last year when I went to Perth for a student conference. While I'd lived there for most of 30 years, I'd moved on from Perth for good. Almost all my relatives live there, but my home was (and is) here in the Hunter valley, where I'd settled in 1996. And Perth provided another opportunity. A good friend of my mother's, and a good friend of mine, financed the printing of my cards.

I'd been pretty much broke since February and subsisting on a disability allowance meant that I was unlikely to save much with which to print them the way I wanted to. And yet here I was able to, through the love and kindness of a family friend. Odd too, that I'd flown to America and back, to Perth and back, while broke. But any number of things are possible if one stops looking at the obstacles and starts seeing the possibilities. Unusually, it seemed to fit a new pattern that I seem to be creating in my life.

At some point I became centred and stopped (for the most part) worrying about my problems. Not that they disappeared, but I stopped using my "analytical mind" at the expense of "symbolic side". I stopped doing too many things each day, starting taking 'time out' for myself at my own speed. Sometimes that means just staying home and sitting out the back, reading and playing with my pets, and maybe just listening to the radio, or just the sounds of the birds and other animals that roam the Barnsley bush. Sometimes it means purposeful trips to the uni, or shopping, or whatever.

But the funny thing has been, that by doing less each day, I seem to be getting more done overall. And when problems come along that I can't "fix" by using my critical faculties, I seem to be more able to let pride go, and say "I don't know the answer". And here's the thing, because having done that, it's much easier to ask for help, from either temporal or divine sources. And, and it comes!

I even came across a book that described this very process - Slowing Down to the Speed of Life. I read this and realised that I was already doing what it suggested!

And the final death related to rebirth is that of my car, the Rauni. Ever since I converted her to LP Gas I've had nothing but trouble in one form or another. The last four years have been increasingly difficult for me to keep her legally on the road. I've borrowed, scrounged, and jumped through hoops to do so. I've used magic to keep her going or undetected when she shouldn't have been. But this year, I'm letting her go.

The issue was decided for me earlier this year when the engine head cracked and shortly afterwards I had a minor accident which forced me to get a Centrelink advance to pay for panel beating repairs on the other car. There was no way I could afford to get a new engine and pay for insurance this time around. At first I resisted, because I though that I absolutely had to have a car in order to survive in this "bush suburb". 

But I was wrong. It wasn't so much having a car that I was sold on, but what having a car gave me. And mostly that is convenience - the ability to go places at whim at any time. You can't do that on public transport - you have plan ahead, and then there are limits. But mostly it just means that you take longer to get anywhere on a bus, train or ferry, than you do in a car. Then I discovered that the local bus company issued and accepted "pensioner excursion" tickets. For $2.50 I can go anywhere in the metro area on public transport, including a return trip to Sydney and back (250km round trip)!

I tried it. I didn't have to worry about traffic, I could sit and watch the scenery, or watch/listen to the other passengers, or read a book while in transit. Can't do that easily while driving a car. As someone who'd been epileptic, it'd been important for me to get my driver's license, but that's long ago now. I started (often) to enjoy travelling on the buses. Most of the people who used the local bus service were regulars, and the bus drivers know them, and know (more or less) each other.

And I started talking (and listening) to people while on the bus. It brought me out of myself. So, although my car is slowly dying, her death is forcing me to be social, and I'm actually enjoying it. In fact, once I accepted that I had to let the car go, a whole wall of tension and fear vanished.

So I guess this time around this Spring Equinox for me is about death and rebirth. My ego death (and eventual centring) earlier in the year; my father's death and the unexpected enabling of my project; the (ongoing) death of my car and my embracing other means of getting around and its side effects, are all in the mix. Death and life, hand in hand, all part of a cycle.

Don't know what's to come from this, but I'm no longer afraid of the future, and am ready to accept Mother's guidance, whatever that may be.

 
 
Mood: contemplativecontemplative