Bahuchara Mata

Kanodia, Kunal

This paper seeks to explore who Bahuchara Mata is, and what she means for the hijras of Gujarat. In this context, I will be exploring the manner in which her worship and significance legitimize the social roles of her worshippers, primarily the hijras. I will be discussing the prominent myths surrounding Bahuchara Mata, and what these imply for the intersecting identities of gender and class. I will then be exploring what the processes of Brahmanization and Sanskritization mean for the worship of Bahuchara Mata, and more importantly, how do her devotees react to this. I will be discussing the distinct differences in the iconographies of the Goddess between calendar art depictions, and hijra depictions. I will then go on to talk about other myths of Bahuchara Mata, and what this implies for her intervention in the lives of her devotees. I will be also discussing the context of the Becharaji, which is the main pilgrimage spot for hijra devotees of Bahuchara Mata. This will lead into a discussion of the legal rights of the hijra community, and how the worship of Bahuchara Mata plays a role in the fight for LGBTQ rights. The paper is interspaced with interview accounts from members of the hijra community, whose invaluable inputs were essential for the research. I have attached two appendices – Appendix I contains two images that might be useful for reference, while Appendix II contains the Hindi transcriptions of interviews with community members.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures (Barnard College)
Published Here
May 25, 2016