India Journal: Eunuchs
July 31, 2008, 7:34 am
Filed under: India


This is our team, with our friend, Deshpande.  He’s a part of the Truthseekers team in Delhi.  He walked the streets and train stations with us, translated for us, insisted on carrying our luggage, took an ailing team member to see a doctor late at night, and many other things for which we’re grateful.

Deshpande’s desire to serve others is constantly evident.  But his love for God and people also expresses itself in a unique, and difficult calling.  He is beginning a ministry in Delhi to reach out to India’s eunuch and prostitute community.  In India, the eunuchs, or hijras as they are referred to, consider themselves a third gender.  Very rarely will someone be born that way . . . all the rest are adopted into the hijra community through an “operation,” which is actually a ritual that I won’t go into here (for the strong-stomached, you can read about the process here – there is also a thorough description of the hijra culture).  For the most part, hijras are male homosexuals, who join this community after being rejected by their families for refusing to marry and have children.

The hijras have a recognized (and feared) role in society.  They show up at weddings and births to pronounce “blessings,” which usually come at a high price.  People usually pay up, partly just to get rid of them, and partly to avoid being cursed by them.  Hijras are often flamboyant and belligerent, and take advantage of society’s discomfort with them.  They are as low as you can get in India.

Deshpande has befriended several of these people, and has worked to express love and grace toward them.  Unfortunately, our planned time to go with Deshpande to visit them had to be cancelled due to illness, so we didn’t meet the hijras personally.  But one day I was able to spend a couple of hours, just listening to Deshpande’s heart and his stories that communicated compassion.  He’s in a difficult place, though, because he needs help.  He can’t do this work alone – not only are there too many people for that, but he needs the encouragement of supportive co-workers.  If you’re the praying type, I’d ask that you pray for Deshpande today.  I’ve encouraged him to continue staying faithful to his work through Truthseekers, and allow God to bring others to work with him in due time.


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Powerful story, Steve. My prayers and my gratitude go out to Deshpande and the hijras.

Comment by Pat

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