Mehandi, a transperson from Chennai, was crowned Miss Koovagam at a beauty pageant held in Villupuram on Monday in connection with the annual Koothandavar festival. Organised by the South India Transgenders Federation along with Tamil Nadu AIDS Control Society, the beauty contest saw quite a number of entries.
The contest tested the general knowledge and social awareness of the participants. The contestants’ contribution to the future of the community was also one of the requirements of the event.
Mehandi was declared the title winner and Riyana Soori from Tiruchirapalli the first runner-up. Sakshi of Salem was the second runner-up. They were crowned by Minister for Minorites Welfare and Non-resident Tamils Welfare Gingee K.S. Masthan at the municipal grounds.
The festival at the Koothandavar temple attracted hundreds of transpersons from various parts of the country. It was a unique occasion for the transgender persons. They also participated in the widowhood rituals held on the concluding day. Several other events like awareness campaigns and mobile HIV testing were also held as part of the festivities.
Ms. Mehandi said transgendered persons had now come up in life due to hard work and hoped that their families accepted them to enable them to lead a happy life. She urged the community to pursue higher education and said only knowledge would help uplift them.