Navigation Links
Drawing from Myth to Become Mistress of Spices

The smell of egg and mutton biriyani fills the air at Shilpa's stall at the 'Aravanis' talent village' near the Koothandavar temple as the Hindu deity is readied// for his marriage with hundreds of transvestites in an annual ritual.

Shilpa is an 'Aravani', one who is among nearly 300,000 transvestites who live in this South Indian state and cooking is one skill they have traditionally inherited. They say transvestites are good cooks because mythological hero Arjuna in his disguise as Brihannala, a transvestite, became a palace cook.

Many families in the southern districts believe that until the 'Aravani' stirs the cooking pot, the correct 'pakkuam' or the right degree of cooking will not happen.

And, instead of selling sex on the sidelights of the biggest transgender gathering in the country this week, Shilpa, who is a master chef, along with her team of Aravanis, set up a food stall for the thousands of visitors to Kooavagam village.

The myth of the Aravan is from the epic Mahabharata. Aravan, a warrior, was asked what his last wish was just before he went for a battle. He wanted to experience married bliss and the gods fulfilled his wish, taking the form of a beautiful bride.

The deity at the temple festival in Koovagam village, about 200 km south of Chennai, gets married to thousands of transvestites prettily dressed up as brides at the same auspicious hours when Lord Shiva is said to have married Meenakshi, the goddess of Madurai. The next morning the transvestites mark a period of widowhood, when Aravan goes to war and dies.

In a society where myth and superstition make for a heady mix, the real mistress of spices is Mathana from Ukakadam.

She took to cooking at a tender age of 12 but as her family discovered that she was a transvestite, it shunned her until the Aravani community took her in.

'One elderly Aravani and a Muslim family changed my life,' she told IANS at Villu puram, where hundreds of Aravanis gathered for their pilgrimage to Koovagam village Tuesday.

'The elderly Aravani introduced me to the Muslim family who kept me as their cook for 10 years'. It is this family in Coimbatore that taught master chef Mathana how to make exceptional 'biriyani', a non-vegetarian rice dish.

Her fame, which spread at first just by word of mouth, is such that she has to carry business cards with phone numbers for clients to contact her for party cooking contracts.

The Tamil Nadu AIDS Initiative and Native Medicare Charitable Trust (NMCT) have roped her in to train younger Aravanis to cook. 'With TAI and NMCT I am attempting to wean away Aravanis from commercial sex work and give them an alternative,' she says.

Mathana, 53, just directs her disciples these days, saying 'so much of chilli powder and so many cardamoms into the cauldron,' and heavenly aroma rises from the pot of golden rice. Seven to eight such party jobs bring her as much as Rs.5,000 a month, and, of course, recognition as a master chef.

'In our community (Aravanis), people only go for basic education, not for higher education, because they want to start earning at the earliest to become independent. So they go for sex work, as it is easy to find. But there are other ways to live,' she says.

NMCT project coordinator Jeyaganesh told IANS that Mathana and several other Aravanis who cook well have been involved in training the first batch of 26 transvestites.

Soon the second batch of 25 Aravanis will also begin. The trust, supported by TAI, is also collaborating with the famous Madurai-based catering house 'Meenakshi Bhavan' and its chain of hotels and teachers of the catering department of the Avinashilingam Deemed University.

'The batch was first given a 15-day catering training in Madurai with sessions on improving behavior and self-esteem, and then added skill upgrades in Coimbatore for an other fortnight.'

'Getting them away from sex work and high risk behavior reduces the risk to contract HIV too,' he said, adding that the project was popular among the community.

Catering trainer Sathyanathan, who trained Shilpa, says, 'They have natural talent and are easy to train in cooking and catering'.

Shilpa's favorite is soya cutlet, and as she offers hers to taste, she vehemently insists, 'I don't like sex work, I don't even want to teach. I like cooking and that is what I will be doing the rest of my life.'


'"/>




Related medicine news :

1. Drawing Parallels to H5N1 Virus and a 1918 Flu Virus
2. Overweight children Dont Necessarily Become overweight adults
3. Girls Who Undergo Genital Mutilation Can Become Infertile
4. Genetic Tests Could Become As Affordable As Blood Tests
5. Obesity Among Children May Become a Major Problem
6. Manned Mars Mission May Become A Reality
7. Malaria Detecting Watch May Become A Health Hazard
8. Children Of Alcoholics Tend to Become Drug Abusers In Adulthood
9. Kerala To Become Testing Center For US Bound Nurses
10. Himachal Pradesh Fails To Become Health Tourism Center
11. Cancer Treatment To Become Less Expensive
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:10/13/2017)... Vegas, Nevada (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... ... 7® Hemp CBD Oil utilizing Purzorb™ technology. Applying the Purzorb™process to full spectrum CBD ... dose required and providing a CBD form that can be easily incorporated into liquid ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... The Visiting ... Day Market. Featuring a collection of specialty vendors and unique items from across the ... and quality-focused health and wellness services offered by the VNA. The boutique will ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Coveros, a ... has been awarded a contract by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services ... accelerate the enterprise use of Agile methodologies in a consistent and high value ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... ... Planet Fitness, one of the largest and fastest growing franchisors and operators ... location in Covington, LA at 401 N. U.S. Highway 190, in January of 2018. ... in the Holiday Square shopping center. Its location allows it to serve both Covington ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... 12, 2017 , ... Information about the technology: , Otomagnetics ... enable prevention of a major side effect of chemotherapy in children. Cisplatin and ... For cisplatin, hearing loss is FDA listed on-label as a dose limiting toxicity. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... , Oct. 12, 2017 AVACEN Medical ... the company with their  2017 New Product Innovation Award ... on extensive primary and secondary medical device market research by ... through its first-to-market OTC, drug-free pain relief product, the AVACEN ... approach to treating fibromyalgia widespread pain. ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... -- West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. (NYSE: WST), ... administration, today announced that it will release third-quarter 2017 ... 26, 2017, and will follow with a conference call ... a.m. Eastern Time. To participate on the call, please ... is 94093362. A ...
(Date:10/11/2017)...  Caris Life Sciences ® , a leading innovator ... precision medicine, today announced that St. Jude Medical Center,s ... (POA) as its 17 th member. Through participation ... Cancer Institute will help develop standards of care and ... making cancer treatment more precise and effective. ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: