Koovagam FEST

Every year lakhs of people, especially the Aravanis or transgender community, come together for the annual temple festival of Koothandavar, at Koovagam, in Tamil Nadu. The festival commemorates the day when Krishna took on the form of a female to marry Aravan, a handsome young man who was to be sacrificed the following day. It is a theme that the community empathizes with and year after year many of them go through the rituals of marriage and widowhood as a form of worship.

While the festival has been of cultural and religious significance for centuries over the last decade Koovagam in Villupuram district has also been used as an occasion to creatively message on safe sex. And HIV messages have become a part of this town especially during the “wedding night”, which falls on the full moon night in the Tamil month of Chithirai during April – May.

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