Padma Shri awardee Manjamma Jogathi: Everything you should know about Karnataka’s transgender dancer

Manjamma Jogathi received Padma Shri award from the Indian President for her contribution to folk dance (Image IE)

Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday witnessed one of its kind greetings in the presence of President of India Ram Nath Kovind. The unique greet came from none other than Karnataka’s transgender woman Manjamma Jogathi whose videos of this special gesture doing rounds on social media. Manjamma Jogathi received Padma Shri award from the Indian President for her contribution to folk dance. Check the video here.

As she was called on stage, Manjamma, who was seen in saree, went up to the President of India in a very unique gesture. She took the fringe of the saree towards Ram Nath Kovind, President of India to bestow him with good luck and wishes before receiving the honour. Legends have it, a good wish from a transgender bring luck in person’s life.

Manjamma Jogathi: Not allowed to return home

Born as Manjunatha Shetty in Ballari district, Manjamma had studied till 10th standard. Talking about her life journey, she said that started to notice herself as a woman when she was only 15. When her behaviour started changing to teenage girls, she was taken to the temple by her parents to get her married to a god/goddess. And from there, Manjunath Shetty became popular Manjamma Jogathi for everyone. She was however not allowed to return home after that.

Initial days

Manjamma’s initial days were difficult. From begging on streets for food to being sexually abused, she has seen it all. Manjamma even decided to end her life but came across a father and son who taught her dance. This gave kickstart to her new life.

Manjamma was then taken to Kallava Jogathi where she learnt Jogathi Nrithya (a folk performance of Jogappas). And from there, she became a performer. After Kaalavva’s death, she took over the dance group which later on became very popular.

Meaning, significance of ritual

A well-known Indian trasgender activist, Akkai Padmashali, said, “I am happy as she is representing the entire community. I , on the behalf of the community thanks the Indian government for considering the contribution of transgender community by honouring Manjamma”, she was exclusively quoted as saying in the

Speaking of the ritual that Manjamma performed, she said, “She should have not done that. There has been a lot of myths and misconceptions in society regarding transgender community. When she is at the forum receiving the award from the President of India, she should not have performed the ritual”. Constitutional values of the country are above the belief system, she added. If society only has respect for cultural status, where is our social, economic, political and human rights status?”, she told Indian express.

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