Watch | Transwomen discover the joy of learning Silambam

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A group of transwomen are learning Silambam in Perumbakkam and want to train children living in the tenements in traditional art forms

A group of transwomen are learning Silambam in Perumbakkam and want to train children living in the tenements in traditional art forms

At half past five every evening, as the sweltering heat dips in the city, Santhoshini, a 25-year-old transwoman, reaches the Tamil Nadu Urban Habitat Development Board tenements in Perumbakkam, picks up her bamboo stick and waits for the command. Along with her, five other transwomen stand in a particular order, make agile movements and swirl their sticks.

Learning Silambam has been much more than just a recreation for these transwomen in the last few weeks. “We usually don’t find too many transgender persons learning traditional art form like Silambam. That has to change. We want more people from our community to learn these art forms too. It will greatly help in breaking the stereotypes that shroud people’s mind that this community will only do certain jobs,” Santhoshini says.

Also, learning Silambam will assist the community in more ways than one, Santhoshini adds. “Since Silambam as an art is once again gaining popularity, we see people often perform during cultural festivals. On such occasions, we too can get opportunities to perform. We can start teaching this art in the neighbourhood. All this will add to our income. For us, every penny counts,” Santhoshini says.

Karakam, parai

Nila, a transwoman who runs an NGO Pharm Foundation to help the transgender community, has been taking several initiatives from organising Silambam classes for transgender persons to Karakam and Parai lessons for children. “The society’s perception and look towards transgender persons has to change. That’s one of the primary reasons I chose to organise such classes,” Nila says.

Children of families that shifted from the city to Perumbakkam lack any diversion and this has made them vulnerable to drugs or alcohol addiction early in life, says Nila. “I wanted to teach these children some art forms like Parai and Karakam. The children love these classes. And this is just a beginning. A small effort such as this to learn an art will create a huge difference in their lives,” says Nila.



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