It’s a rare event that is said to be happening after more than several hundred years. Eunuchs from across the country have converged in this holy town to do the ‘shraddha karma’ for their departed brethren during ‘pitrapaksh’, the period during which Hindus pay respects to their ancestors.
The eunuchs, led by their religious head, Mahamandaleshwar Swami Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, visited the fabled Kashi Vishwanath temple and the Maa Annapurna temple to propitiate the gods. She, along with the other eunuchs, did ‘dugdhabhishek’ (offering of milk) and ‘shodashopchar’ puja at the temple.
Acharya Srikant Mishra of the Vishwanath temple told IANS that 11 litres of milk was offered to Baba Vishwanath after which the eunuchs were gifted ‘manga vastra’ and ‘prasad’. The eunuchs then prayed at the Maa Annapurna Darbaar, where they offered ‘kumkum’ (vermillion) to the deity and prayed for the prosperity of all.
The eunuchs, after doing the puja at the banks of Ganga river, also prayed for safety of the jawans along the border. Hundreds of eunuchs then performed the ‘shraddha karma’ puja for their ancestors and prayed for peace to the departed souls.
The eunuchs offering the puja said they were doing so as they wanted their forefathers to be at peace like other departed souls.
"We were not able to do the puja for many years as at most places we are ostracised by the pundits, and it was only after we planned a group discussion that we came together here," said one of the eunuchs.
A septugenarian eunuch informed IANS that the shraddha was being done only for the second time. The first was done during the Mughal era.
"Through generations, we have been informed that the last shraddha karma was done doing the Mughaliya Sultanat," she added.
"Hum to bas itni prarthna ke saath aye hain ki is janam mein jo bhi bura sahi hua ho hammare sath, agle janam mein na ho, hammer saathiyon ko mukti mile aur voh janta mein sadharan jeevan vyateet karin (We are here to simply pray for our gurus and friends who are no more so that they take a proper, normal birth in the next life)," said another ageing eunuch, who rued how being one was a torment.
Pitra Paksha is a 16-day lunar period when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors (Pitrs), especially through food offerings. Pitru Paksha is considered by Hindus to be inauspicious, given the death rite performed during the ceremony, known as Shraddha or tarpan. Eunuchs pointed out that they have faced problems ever since they were born.
"We all have a troubled life and we just wish that the after life is better and we take rebirth under normal conditions, as normal human beings…This is all what we seek from Baba Vishwanath and Ganga Maiyya," Shalini, a eunuch who was performing shraddha for her late partner, told IANS. She added that since Kashi was considered a city where everyone attained ‘moksha’ (salvation) she was confident that the voice of the hundreds of her community would be heard.