'Varnappakittu' gives wings to Kerala's transgender artistes

'Varnappakittu' gives wings to Kerala's transgender artistes
The arts festival was organised by social justice department's transgender cell on October 8 and 9 in Thiruvananthapuram.
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Bhadra Amal is on cloud nine. Having bagged the prestigious 'Kalaratnam' title at Varnappakittu 2019, the first edition of State Transgender Arts Festival, Bhadra proved that endurance is not just tolerating setbacks but turning them into glory.

She won first prizes in Mohiniyattam and Kuchippudi and second prize in Bharathanatyam to bag the best artiste title of the festival.

'Varnappakittu' gives wings to Kerala's transgender artistes
'Kalarathnam' Bhadra Amal with her life partner Amal Prasad.

The co-founder of Natyanjali, a popular dance school in Pala in Kottayam district, Bhadra thanks her mother, who is her pillar of support and her life partner Amal Prasad, who is a passionate dancer, for her success.

A graduate in Bharatanatyam, Bhadra is now planning to pursue post graduation in the same subject. "I will fulfil my dream soon," she said.

The arts festival, organised by social justice department's transgender cell on October 8 and 9 in Thiruvananthapuram, has given wings to the aspirations of many artistes from transgender community, including Bhadra. The event saw 191 artistes vying for honours in 20 competitions.

'Varnappakittu' gives wings to Kerala's transgender artistes
'Kalarathnam' Bhadra Amal performing Mohiniyattam (left) and Kuchippudi (right.)

Most of the artistes chose to showcase pain, agony and social ostracisation that they face in their everyday life, in the dance competitions. Some presented topics like love and womanhood.

For example, Bhadra presented the emotions of women as a mother, lover and wife. Monisha, who bagged first prize in semi classical dance competition, portrayed the dilemmas faced by transgender community. Apart from dance events, competitions were also held in essay writing and story writing. Project officer Syama came first in the essay competition.

'Varnappakittu' gives wings to Kerala's transgender artistes
A visual from Group Dance competition.

Kottayam district won the overall championship in the festival, while Malappuram finished second.

The success of the festival has obviously enthused the organisers. Syama S Prabha, project officer at the transgender cell, termed it as historic event. "We are all proud to associate with the historic event. Where else in India would transgender persons get such an opportunity to showcase their skills?" she asked.

'Varnappakittu' gives wings to Kerala's transgender artistes
Most of the artistes chose to showcase pain, agony and social ostracisation that they face in their everyday life, in the dance competitions.

She said the event was managed extremely well. "Each phase of the event, right from the planning stage till prize distribution, was coordinated with great precision and enthusiasm. This gives us the motivation to make the event an annual affair," Syama said.

Laya Mariya, project co-ordinator at the transgender cell, said the number of participants would have been higher had the event not clashed with the school youth festivals being held in different districts. Many transgender artistes work as make-up artistes for a living and the school youth festivals are major events in their annual calendar. "They cannot simply let go their professional commitments. So they gave the transgender festival a miss," Laya said.

'Varnappakittu' gives wings to Kerala's transgender artistes
A visual from 'Oppana' competition at 'Varnappakittu 2019.'
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