India and homosexuality do not go together – that is a fact well known, but what if I told you that there is a culture in the country for which homosexuality is not a taboo?
Not only acceptable, homosexuals are free to pursue whatever they want to, and are not ostracized for who they are, are not discriminated for who they love?
The Ho Tribe
The Ho tribe of Jharkhand is an ethnic group, where no such limitations on sexuality exist. This warrior tribe from Jharkhand is the fourth largest tribe after Santhals, Oraons and Mundas. Often, Ho is called the sister tribe of the Mundas.
Homosexuality has been traditionally sanctioned and there is no hostility against such unions.
Homosexual men are called Kothi Panthis. Kothi Panthis choose their partners, get married and live together.
The Discovery of Homosexuality
Homosexuality has never been traditionally accepted, even among tribal communities, but there are some tribes which do.
It was an NGO called Citizen’s Foundation that was conducting a survey only in order to curb the occurrence of HIV/AIDS among the tribal communities that something like this was finally discovered.
A survey was being conducted within 20 km of Chaibasa town. The surveyors discovered that there were 10 different places where men would gather and gossip and tell stories. In such a gathering there would be at least two homosexual couples.
At first, the surveyors suspected that homosexuality could be a substitution for females. This is because the couples were mostly mine workers, and since there were not many females deployed there, it could have been possible that their assumption was true.
But as the surveyors studied deep into their culture, it was discovered that homosexuality was treated as a separate form of relationship from the heterosexual one. Homosexuality among Hos is recognized and respected.
In fact, homosexual men were present at most social and professional spheres of life.
I think one of the most important reasons for acceptance of homosexuality is that the Ho tribe has been divorced from organized religion like Hinduism or Christianity – both of which have strong anti-homosexuality stances (Brahmanical Hinduism, here).
In that sense, the Ho community has not been “sanitized” from its age-old customs.
What is still interesting to note is – patriarchy prevails even in homosexuality. The community has not accepted lesbian couples yet.
Image Credits: Google Images