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Wednesday, November 10, 2021

touching gesture ! - Padma Awards 2021 Manjamma Jogati

I am moved –- please hold your conscience, do you know this person  or would have ever cared to know what  she had done great things changing the society -  have more reasons to hail the present Govt and our Hon’ble Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modiji; always feel that somewhere our priorities went wrong and that people started looking at only Cine stars, Cricketers and politicians as heroes and noteworthy persons in the society  .. ..

Investiture (from the Latin preposition in and verb vestire, "dress" from vestis "robe"), is the formal installation or ceremony in which a person is given the authority and regalia of a high office.

For sure, you would have read, seen photos and footage of our Hon’ble President Sri Ramnath Kovind presenting Padma Awards at   Civil Investiture Ceremony – held at  Rashtrapati Bhavan – in case you had missed out seeing this video, do see this :

The power house Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday witnessed a unique greet to the President of India by Karnataka’s transgender woman Manjamma Jogathi who was conferred with Padma Shri award for her contribution to folk dance. As her name was called, Manjamma, draped in a saree went up to the President and in a unique gesture, took the fringe of the saree towards President of India Ram Nath Kovind to wish him good luck before receiving the award. According to the belief system, a good wish from a transgender would certainly bring luck.

Every Nation should honour its brave and gallant heroes. Even in our puranas, the merit of dying as a martyr in the cause of Dharma is all along appreciated and any kind of death on battlefield was considered glorious. The highest gallantry award is Param Vir Chakra whilst Ashok Chakra is the country’s highest peacetime gallantry award.  Ideally such great National awards should embellish those who have done yeomen service to the Nation building or had created deep impact in the lives of people by their findings or by their way of life. This should apply not only to Bharat Rathna but to Padma awards given every year – the Padma Vibushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri.  For long years, Padma awards were the possession of elite few – Cine artistes, politicians, politically powerful bigwigs and more  sharing the podium brushing shoulders with great Scientists, Doctors social workers and industrialists.  In the recent few years this has changed. 

There are people who have been doing yeoman service to the Society but of whom little had been known – are now in the limelight receiving the honour and adding value to the awards.   Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian honours of India announced annually on the eve of Republic Day. The Awards are given in three categories: Padma Vibhushan (for exceptional and distinguished service), Padma Bhushan (distinguished service of higher order) and Padma Shri (distinguished service). The awards seek to recognize achievements in all fields of activities or disciplines where an element of public service is involved. The Government of India instituted two civilian awards-Bharat Ratna & Padma Vibhushan in 1954. The latter had three classes namely Pahela Varg, Dusra Varg and Tisra Varg. These were subsequently renamed as Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri vide Presidential Notification issued on January 8, 1955.  

In 1985, this person  attempted to end her life by consuming poison. This was soon after she became a Jogathi, abandoning her male identity and becoming a transwoman on being initiated into the service of the deity at the Huligemma temple at Hospet in Ballari district in Karnataka. Her parents had grudgingly accepted this transformation of their male child, but their demeanour towards Manjamma changed thereafter, and this troubled her deeply. That is when she decided to end her life.  She says in her autobiography, Naduve Suliva Hennu: “My father did not accept me. When he saw me wearing a saree, he could not tolerate me. I suppose he could not see his son like a daughter and his whole attitude towards me changed…. I decided that it was better to die than to live with this sort of tension.” Naduve Suliva Hennu (loosely translated as “Flashes of the Feminine”) has been narrated by Arun Joladkudligi, assistant professor, Kannada Folklore University.

Reukā, also is a Goddess worshipped predominantly in Karnataka, Maharashtra and southern Indian states of, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh.- the ancient Renuka Yellamma Devi temple at Savadatti is one among the prominent shakthi peetas in Karnataka, Renuka's temple at Mahur in Maharashtra is one of the shakti peethas. Jogti Nritya, a folk dance form of North Karnataka.  The  temple located in Savadatti, Belagavi district is rich with mythological folklore of Goddess Yellamma.   The keepers of this mythology are the Devadasis and the Jogathis (transgender women). They were the learned scholars and had a place in society. Over the years these communities were marginalised by society. Interestingly, these communities carry the nature of duality of submissiveness and un-obsequiousness towards patriarchy. As much as they have been victims of suppression, they have also been revolutionary in their propaganda to address patriarchy. Yellammanatta, Padlige, Chowdki folk performance tools have been a social shelter for decades to transgender women in North Karnataka.

Now comes the honour !!  - Manjamma Jogati, the first trans-president of the Karnataka Janapada Academy was presented the Padma Shri by President Ram Nath Kovind during a ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday.

Manjamma, who was born as Manjunatha Shetty in Ballari district, studied till 10th standard. Sharing her life journey, she said she started to identify herself as a woman at the age of 15 and when she began behaving like a girl from her teens, her parents took him to a temple in Hospet and got him to perform Jogappa, a ritual in which the devotees are believed to get married to a god or goddess. From then, Manjunath Shetty became Manjamma Jogathi but she was not allowed to return home. Manjamma started her lone journey begging on the streets draped in sarees. She was also sexually abused and had decided to kill herself but came across a father and son who taught her dance, which gave a new start to her life.

She was introduced to Kallava Jogathi where Manjamma learnt the dance form Jogathi Nrithya (a folk performance of Jogappas) and started performing across the state. After Kaalavva’s death, she took over the troupe and the dance became more popular.

It was a great moment as Transgender folk dancer Manjamma Jogati received Padma Shri honour for her contribution to arts. President Ram Nath Kovind handed over the award at the 2021 Padma awards ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Her receiving the award after the gesture and warm  smile  won hearts. The President also seemed touched by the gesture as he hands over the award. 

For Manjamma Jogati, now in her early 60s, the Padma honours comes after decades of social and financial struggle. Amid poverty, social exclusion, and even rape, Manjamma Jogati mastered, among other art forms, Jogati Nritya and Janapada songs, Kannada language sonnets in praise of various female deities. In 2006, she was awarded the Karnataka Janapada Academy Award and, 13 years later, in 2019, she was appointed president of the institution. In 2010, Karnataka government honoured her with the annual Kannada Rajyotsava award. Manjamma Jogati received  Padma Shri for 2021 in the arts category. Long live those who serve the Society ! – my pranams to those who selflessly serve others.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar                                             
10th Nov. 2021.

PS :  The Investiture Controversy,   was a conflict between the church and the state in medieval Europe over the ability to choose and install bishops (investiture) and abbots of monasteries and the pope himself. A series of popes in the 11th and 12th centuries undercut the power of the Holy Roman Emperor and other European monarchies, and the controversy led to nearly 50 years of civil war in Germany.

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