The Rashtrapati Bhavan’s Durbar hall was recently filled with esteemed personalities who were conferred with the Padma Awards this year. One such personality was Karnataka’s transgender dancer Manjamma Jogathi, who received the Padma Shri Award for her contribution to folk dance on Tuesday.
Jogathi is the first transgender chairperson of the Karnataka Janapada Academy and the only transgender to receive the Padma Shri Award this year. However, behind this illustrious and talented woman is a journey of resilience and struggle which most of us are unaware of.
Born in Karnataka’s Bellary district as Manjunatha Shetty, she was married to a god owing to a Hindu ritual. She was then known as Manjamma Jogathi and was not permitted to enter her own house after the marriage.
Jogathi, who left her house after marriage, identified as a woman at the age of 15. She resorted to begging as she had only managed to study till Class 10. Jogathi’s tussle for a dignified life became even more difficult when she was sexually abused. There came a point in her life when she had decided to end her life. But fate had something good in store for her and she met a father and son duo who gave her a new lease on life by teaching her dancing.
She joined a troupe and learned the dance form Jogathi Nrithya. The folk dancer began performing across various states with her troupe and soon became the leader of the group.
Jogathi’s video while receiving the Padma Shri has gone viral for the affectionate gesture which she made with her saree’s pallu. The lady swayed her pallu thrice over the president as a form of wishing good luck. Her courtesy ritual was lauded by the audience. Watch the video here:
#WATCH | Transgender folk dancer of Jogamma heritage and the first transwoman President of Karnataka Janapada Academy, Matha B Manjamma Jogati receives the Padma Shri award from President Ram Nath Kovind. pic.twitter.com/SNzp9aFkre
— ANI (@ANI) November 9, 2021
Renowned transgender activist, Akkai Padmashali in an interview with Indian Express thanked the Government of India for honouring Jogathi with the prestigious award.