Kinnar Akhara

Kinnar Akhara at Kumbh Mela 2025: Embracing Inclusivity and Spirituality in Prayagraj

Updated on: May 29, 2024
Authored by: Ankur Saxena
The Kinnar Akhara’s participation in the Kumbh Mela 2025 in Prayagraj marks a significant step towards inclusivity. Their activities include cultural performances, spiritual sessions, and educational workshops, promoting transgender rights and visibility. This historic involvement enhances the spiritual and cultural fabric of the festival, fostering unity and acceptance.
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Introduction – Kinnar Akhara

The Kumbh Mela is one of the most significant and largest religious gatherings in the world, deeply rooted in Hindu tradition and spirituality. It takes place every 12 years, rotating among four holy sites in India: Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad), Haridwar, Nashik, and Ujjain. The festival’s name, “Kumbh Mela,” is derived from the Sanskrit words “Kumbh,” meaning pot or pitcher, and “Mela,” meaning fair or gathering.

The event is known for its massive congregations of devotees, ascetics, saints, and tourists, all drawn together by a common quest for spiritual renewal and divine blessings.

The Kumbh Mela is celebrated with great fervour and devotion, attracting millions of participants from across the globe. It is believed to be one of the largest peaceful gatherings in the world, with the number of attendees often exceeding tens of millions.

Kinnar Akhara

The festival spans several weeks, during which pilgrims engage in various religious activities, including bathing in the sacred rivers, attending spiritual discourses, participating in processions, and seeking blessings from revered spiritual leaders.

The 2025 Kumbh Mela is set to take place in Prayagraj, a city with profound historical and spiritual significance. Prayagraj is located at the confluence of three sacred rivers: the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati.

This confluence, known as the Triveni Sangam, is considered a highly auspicious site for Hindu rituals and is believed to possess extraordinary purifying powers. Pilgrims flock to the Triveni Sangam to perform the ritual bath, or “Shahi Snan,” which is believed to cleanse them of their sins and grant them spiritual liberation.

One of the most notable aspects of the upcoming Kumbh Mela 2025 is the participation of the Kinnar Akhara, a religious order composed of transgender individuals. The Kinnar Akhara’s involvement marks a significant milestone in the history of the Kumbh Mela and represents a broader movement towards inclusivity and recognition of the transgender community within Hindu religious traditions.

Historically, transgender people, known as “Kinnars” or “Hijras,” have held a unique and often respected position in various Indian cultural and religious practices. However, they have also faced social marginalization and discrimination.

The Kinnar Akhara, established in 2015, aims to provide a spiritual and social platform for transgender individuals, allowing them to participate fully in religious activities and gain acceptance within the broader Hindu community. Their official recognition and participation in the Kumbh Mela since 2019 have been groundbreaking, paving the way for greater visibility and inclusion of the transgender community in mainstream religious and cultural events.

The presence of the Kinnar Akhara at the Kumbh Mela 2025 is expected to enrich the festival’s spiritual and cultural tapestry, offering attendees a unique opportunity to engage with and learn from the transgender community’s rich traditions and spiritual practices. This participation not only enhances the diversity of the Kumbh Mela but also serves as a powerful statement of unity, equality, and acceptance in the contemporary world.

Historical Background of Kinnar Akhara

Origins and Formation

The Kinnar Akhara, a prominent religious order of transgender individuals, was officially founded in 2015 by Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a renowned transgender rights activist. The term “Kinnar” refers to the third gender in Indian society, a group historically known as Hijras. 

These individuals have long been part of India’s cultural and spiritual fabric, often revered and respected in ancient times but marginalized in modern society. The formation of the Kinnar Akhara was a significant step towards reclaiming the spiritual heritage and societal respect once accorded to the transgender community.


The idea behind the Kinnar Akhara was to provide a formalized platform for transgender individuals to engage in religious practices, rituals, and discourses, akin to other established Akharas (monastic orders) in Hinduism. It also aimed to promote social acceptance and integration of transgender people into mainstream society by highlighting their spiritual and cultural contributions.

Significance in Hinduism

Transgender individuals have held a unique place in Hindu mythology and culture. They are often considered to possess special spiritual powers and are believed to be capable of blessing or cursing individuals. Several Hindu texts and epics, such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana, mention transgender characters who played crucial roles in the narratives. For instance, Shikhandi in the Mahabharata and the blessings of the Hijras in the Ramayana underscore their significant presence and influence.

Historically, transgender people were seen as auspicious and were often invited to bless newborns, weddings, and other significant events. They were regarded as embodiments of fertility and prosperity. However, over time, colonial laws and societal changes led to the marginalization and stigmatization of the transgender community.

The recognition of the Kinnar Akhara at the Kumbh Mela in 2019 marked a pivotal moment in the modern era. It was the first time that a transgender Akhara was officially acknowledged at such a major religious event, signifying a move towards inclusivity and acceptance. This recognition not only validated the spiritual identity of the transgender community but also highlighted their historical and cultural significance within Hinduism.

Early Participation and Challenges

The Kinnar Akhara’s journey to official recognition was not without challenges. Initially, there was resistance from traditional Akharas and sections of society that were reluctant to accept a transgender religious order. Despite this, the persistence and resilience of the Kinnar Akhara members, led by Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, helped overcome these barriers.

Their participation in the Kumbh Mela in 2019 was a groundbreaking event. It included their involvement in the Shahi Snan (royal bath), one of the most sacred rituals of the Kumbh Mela. The sight of Kinnar Akhara members leading the procession and taking the holy dip alongside other sadhus was a powerful symbol of inclusion and equality.

Recognition and Growth

Since their recognition at the Kumbh Mela, the Kinnar Akhara has grown in prominence and influence. They have continued to participate in various religious and cultural events, advocating for the rights and dignity of transgender individuals. Their involvement has also spurred greater dialogue and awareness about transgender issues within the broader society.

The Akhara’s activities are not limited to religious rituals. They are actively involved in social initiatives, including education, healthcare, and advocacy for legal rights. They organize workshops, seminars, and cultural programs to raise awareness about the transgender community and promote social acceptance.

The Kinnar Akhara’s establishment and recognition represent a significant cultural shift, reflecting a broader trend towards embracing diversity and promoting equality. It serves as an inspiration for marginalized communities worldwide, demonstrating the power of resilience and the importance of inclusivity in cultural and religious traditions.


In conclusion, the historical background of the Kinnar Akhara is a story of reclaiming lost heritage, overcoming societal barriers, and striving for equality and acceptance. Their presence at the Kumbh Mela is not just a religious participation but a profound statement of unity, spirituality, and human dignity.

Participation in Kumbh Mela 2025

The Kinnar Akhara’s participation in the Kumbh Mela 2025 in Prayagraj is set to be a landmark event, furthering their mission of spiritual inclusion and social acceptance. Their involvement promises to be multifaceted, encompassing religious rituals, cultural performances, and social initiatives. Here’s a detailed look at their planned activities and the significance of their participation.

Preparations and Involvement

The Kinnar Akhara has been diligently preparing for the Kumbh Mela 2025 to ensure a meaningful and impactful presence. Their preparations include:

Setting Up Camps: The Kinnar Akhara will establish their camp at a prime location within the Mela grounds. These camps will serve as a hub for their religious activities, cultural programs, and social initiatives. The camp will be adorned with traditional decorations, colorful banners, and symbols of the Kinnar community, creating a welcoming and vibrant atmosphere.

Organizing Religious Ceremonies: The Akhara plans to conduct various religious ceremonies, including daily prayers, yajnas (fire rituals), and discourses on sacred texts. These ceremonies will be open to all attendees, fostering a spirit of inclusivity and shared spirituality.

Participating in the Shahi Snan: The Shahi Snan, or royal bath, is one of the most significant rituals of the Kumbh Mela. It involves a ceremonial procession to the river, followed by a ritual bath. The Kinnar Akhara will actively participate in this event, leading the procession with traditional music and dance. Their participation symbolizes their rightful place in the religious and cultural fabric of Hinduism.

Activities and Events

The Kinnar Akhara’s camp at the Kumbh Mela will be a dynamic centre of activities and events, designed to engage and educate the visitors. Some of the key activities include:

Cultural Performances: The Akhara will host daily cultural performances showcasing traditional music, dance, and drama. These performances will highlight the rich heritage of the transgender community and their contributions to Indian culture. Visitors can expect to witness vibrant dances like Lavani and Bharatnatyam, and soulful renditions of folk and classical music.



Spiritual Sessions: The Kinnar Akhara will conduct various spiritual sessions, including meditation classes, yoga workshops, and discussions on religious texts. These sessions will be led by respected members of the Akhara, offering insights into the spiritual practices and philosophies of the transgender community.

Social Initiatives: In addition to religious and cultural activities, the Kinnar Akhara will focus on social initiatives aimed at raising awareness about transgender rights, health, and education. They will organize workshops and seminars on topics such as gender equality, HIV/AIDS awareness, and mental health. These initiatives aim to educate the public and foster greater understanding and acceptance of the transgender community.

Impact on the Transgender Community

The participation of the Kinnar Akhara in the Kumbh Mela 2025 is expected to have a profound impact on the transgender community and society at large:

Social Acceptance and Visibility: By participating in such a prominent religious event, the Kinnar Akhara enhances the visibility of the transgender community and promotes social acceptance. Their presence challenges traditional stereotypes and highlights the contributions of transgender individuals to Indian culture and spirituality.

Empowerment and Advocacy: The Kinnar Akhara’s involvement in the Kumbh Mela serves as a powerful platform for advocacy. It empowers transgender individuals to embrace their identity with pride and confidence. The Akhara’s activities and initiatives during the Mela will also raise awareness about the challenges faced by the transgender community and advocate for their rights and dignity.

Visitor Experience

Visitors to the Kumbh Mela 2025 will have a unique opportunity to engage with the Kinnar Akhara and learn about their traditions and contributions:

Interaction with Kinnar Akhara: Visitors can interact with the members of the Kinnar Akhara through various activities and events at their camp. This interaction will provide insights into the spiritual practices, cultural heritage, and social challenges of the transgender community. Visitors can participate in religious ceremonies, attend cultural performances, and engage in meaningful discussions with Akhara members.


Cultural Exchange: The presence of the Kinnar Akhara enriches the overall cultural tapestry of the Kumbh Mela, allowing for a diverse and inclusive experience for all attendees. The Akhara’s activities will foster a spirit of unity and shared humanity, promoting mutual respect and understanding among people of different backgrounds.


The participation of the Kinnar Akhara in the Kumbh Mela 2025 is a significant milestone in the journey towards inclusivity and acceptance. It underscores the importance of recognizing and celebrating the diversity of human experiences and identities. The Akhara’s involvement not only enriches the spiritual and cultural dimensions of the Kumbh Mela but also serves as a powerful statement of equality and dignity.

As the Kinnar Akhara prepares to take part in this grand event, they invite all attendees to join them in their activities, support their initiatives, and celebrate the spirit of inclusivity and acceptance that defines the Kumbh Mela.

Impact on the Transgender Community

The participation of the Kinnar Akhara in the Kumbh Mela 2025 is poised to create significant positive changes for the transgender community in India and beyond. This involvement not only enhances visibility but also fosters greater social acceptance, empowerment, and advocacy for transgender rights. Here’s an expanded look at these key areas of impact:

Social Acceptance and Visibility

Challenging Stereotypes:

The presence of the Kinnar Akhara at a major religious event like the Kumbh Mela helps dismantle long-standing stereotypes and misconceptions about transgender individuals. By actively participating in sacred rituals and ceremonies, they showcase their spiritual depth and cultural contributions, challenging the often negative and one-dimensional portrayals of transgender people.

Increased Public Awareness:

The Kinnar Akhara’s activities at the Kumbh Mela draw significant media attention, both nationally and internationally. This widespread coverage brings the issues and achievements of the transgender community to the forefront, promoting a broader understanding and acceptance among the general public. It educates people about the historical and cultural significance of transgender individuals in Indian society.

Role Models:

The visibility of respected transgender leaders and members of the Kinnar Akhara serves as an inspiration for many transgender individuals, especially the younger generation. Seeing their peers recognized and respected in such a prominent public forum can boost self-esteem and encourage them to embrace their identity confidently.

Empowerment and Advocacy

Spiritual Empowerment:

The Kinnar Akhara provides a platform for transgender individuals to express their spirituality and religious devotion openly. Participating in the Kumbh Mela allows them to reconnect with their spiritual roots and gain a sense of belonging and purpose within the broader religious community. This spiritual empowerment is crucial for their overall well-being and self-acceptance.

Advocacy for Rights:

The Kinnar Akhara uses the Kumbh Mela as a stage to advocate for transgender rights and issues.


Through seminars, workshops, and public speeches, they raise awareness about the discrimination and challenges faced by transgender people, including legal recognition, healthcare access, and social inclusion. Their advocacy efforts aim to influence public policy and societal attitudes towards greater equality and justice.

Community Support:

The Kinnar Akhara’s involvement in the Kumbh Mela fosters a sense of community and solidarity among transgender individuals. The collective participation in religious and cultural activities strengthens their bonds and provides a support network. This communal support is vital for their emotional and psychological resilience.

Educational and Health Initiatives

Health Awareness Campaigns:

During the Kumbh Mela, the Kinnar Akhara conducts health awareness campaigns focusing on issues pertinent to the transgender community, such as HIV/AIDS prevention, mental health, and general healthcare access. These initiatives provide valuable information and resources to both transgender individuals and the broader public, promoting healthier lifestyles and well-being.

Educational Programs:

The Kinnar Akhara organizes educational programs and workshops aimed at empowering transgender individuals through knowledge and skills development. These programs cover a range of topics, including gender rights, legal literacy, and vocational training, helping participants improve their socio-economic status and independence.

Partnerships and Collaborations:

By collaborating with NGOs, healthcare providers, and educational institutions, the Kinnar Akhara enhances the reach and impact of their initiatives. These partnerships enable them to offer comprehensive support services to the transgender community, addressing various aspects of their lives and promoting holistic development.

Broader Societal Impact

Influencing Public Perception:

The participation of the Kinnar Akhara in the Kumbh Mela contributes to shifting public perception towards greater acceptance and inclusivity. By showcasing the spiritual and cultural richness of the transgender community, they help cultivate a more compassionate and understanding society.

Promoting Inclusivity in Religious Practices:

The recognition of the Kinnar Akhara at the Kumbh Mela sets a precedent for other religious and cultural events to become more inclusive. It encourages other religious communities to recognize and integrate marginalized groups, promoting a more inclusive and diverse expression of faith and spirituality.

Policy and Legislative Impact:

The visibility and advocacy efforts of the Kinnar Akhara can influence policymakers to address the issues faced by transgender individuals.


Their participation in high-profile events like the Kumbh Mela highlights the need for legal and social reforms, potentially leading to more inclusive and protective legislation for transgender rights.


The participation of the Kinnar Akhara in the Kumbh Mela 2025 represents a significant milestone in the journey towards equality and acceptance for the transgender community. It has the potential to create lasting positive changes, from enhancing social acceptance and visibility to empowering individuals and advocating for their rights.

By actively engaging in such a major religious event, the Kinnar Akhara not only enriches the cultural and spiritual tapestry of the Kumbh Mela but also paves the way for a more inclusive and just society. Their involvement is a powerful reminder of the importance of diversity and the need to embrace and celebrate all individuals, regardless of their gender identity.

Visitor Experience

The Kumbh Mela 2025 in Prayagraj, enhanced by the participation of the Kinnar Akhara, promises a diverse and enriching experience for visitors. Attendees will have the unique opportunity to engage with the Kinnar Akhara through a variety of activities and events that offer insights into their cultural, spiritual, and social contributions. Here’s an expanded look at what visitors can expect:

Interaction with Kinnar Akhara

Cultural Performances:

Visitors can attend daily cultural performances at the Kinnar Akhara camp. These performances will include traditional music, dance, and drama that reflect the rich cultural heritage of the transgender community.

Expect to be mesmerized by vibrant dance forms like Lavani and Bharatnatyam, and captivated by folk and classical music performances that tell stories of resilience, spirituality, and heritage. These events will not only entertain but also educate attendees about the historical and cultural significance of the Kinnar community.

Spiritual Sessions:

The Kinnar Akhara will host various spiritual sessions open to all visitors. These sessions will include meditation, yoga workshops, and discussions on sacred texts and spiritual practices. Led by respected members of the Akhara, these sessions offer a unique perspective on spirituality that is inclusive and deeply rooted in ancient traditions. Attendees can participate in guided meditations, learn yoga techniques, and engage in thought-provoking discussions on the philosophy and teachings of Hinduism from the transgender perspective.

Religious Ceremonies:

Visitors will have the opportunity to witness and participate in the religious ceremonies conducted by the Kinnar Akhara. These ceremonies will include daily prayers, yajnas (fire rituals), and the Shahi Snan (royal bath). Participating in these rituals alongside the Kinnar Akhara can be a profoundly moving experience, offering a deeper connection to the spiritual essence of the Kumbh Mela.


The Shahi Snan, in particular, is a highlight, where visitors can join the grand procession to the river and witness the ceremonial bath, a symbol of purification and spiritual renewal.

Educational and Social Initiatives

Workshops and Seminars:

The Kinnar Akhara will organize workshops and seminars focused on various social issues, including transgender rights, health, and education. These educational programs aim to raise awareness and foster understanding among visitors. Topics such as gender equality, legal rights, and mental health will be covered, providing valuable insights and fostering empathy and support for the transgender community. These sessions will be led by experts and activists, offering attendees a chance to learn and engage in meaningful dialogues.

Health Camps and Awareness Drives:

Health camps and awareness drives will be a significant part of the Kinnar Akhara’s activities. Visitors can benefit from free health check-ups, consultations, and educational materials on topics like HIV/AIDS prevention, mental health, and general well-being. These initiatives aim to promote a healthier lifestyle among attendees and provide essential health services to those in need. Collaborative efforts with healthcare providers and NGOs will ensure that these services are comprehensive and impactful.

Art and Craft Exhibitions:

The Kinnar Akhara will host exhibitions showcasing traditional arts and crafts created by transgender artists. Visitors can explore and purchase handmade items, including jewellery, textiles, and paintings, that reflect the rich cultural heritage of the Kinnar community. These exhibitions offer a platform for transgender artists to showcase their talents and for visitors to support and appreciate their work.

Cultural Exchange and Learning

Interactive Storytelling:

Storytelling sessions will allow visitors to hear personal stories and experiences from members of the Kinnar Akhara. These narratives will highlight the challenges and triumphs of transgender individuals, offering a deeply personal and emotional connection to their journey. Visitors can engage in Q&A sessions, allowing for an interactive and enlightening experience.

Language and Cultural Workshops:

Language and cultural workshops will be offered, teaching visitors about the unique dialects, traditions, and customs of the transgender community. These workshops will cover topics like traditional cooking, clothing, and rituals, providing a hands-on learning experience that enriches the understanding of the Kinnar heritage.

Culinary Experiences:

Visitors can enjoy traditional Kinnar cuisine at the food stalls set up by the Kinnar Akhara. These culinary experiences will offer a taste of the unique flavours and dishes of the Kinnar cultural heritage. Food stalls will serve traditional meals prepared with recipes passed down through generations, allowing visitors to savour the authentic taste of Kinnar culinary traditions.

Broader Impact on Visitor Perception

Building Empathy and Understanding:

Interacting with the Kinnar Akhara members and participating in their activities can significantly impact visitors’ perceptions and attitudes towards the transgender community. These interactions foster empathy, understanding, and respect, breaking down prejudices and promoting a more inclusive society.

Cultural Appreciation and Respect:

Visitors will gain a deeper appreciation for the cultural and spiritual contributions of the transgender community.


This enhanced understanding promotes respect and recognition of the Kinnar Akhara’s place within the broader context of Hindu traditions and Indian culture.

Support and Advocacy:

By engaging with the Kinnar Akhara, visitors can become advocates for transgender rights and inclusion. The experience at the Kumbh Mela can inspire attendees to support initiatives that promote equality and justice for transgender individuals in their communities.


The Kumbh Mela 2025, enriched by the participation of the Kinnar Akhara, offers a unique and transformative experience for all visitors. From cultural performances and spiritual sessions to educational workshops and health initiatives, the activities organized by the Kinnar Akhara provide valuable insights into the transgender community’s heritage, struggles, and contributions.

This inclusive and diverse engagement enhances the overall experience of the Kumbh Mela and fosters a spirit of unity, understanding, and respect among attendees. By participating in the Kinnar Akhara’s events, visitors can contribute to a more inclusive and compassionate society, celebrating the rich tapestry of human diversity.

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