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Padma Shri Manjamma Jogati Is A Transgender Folk Artiste ‘Married To A Goddess’

Padma Shri Manjamma Jogati
Padma Shri Manjamma Jogati has single-handedly popularised rural folk arts over the past several decades. She is one of the recipients of this years Padma awards.

For Manjamma Jogati, after decades of emotional and cultural hardship, the Padma Shri is a big acknowledgement. Jogati has been working very hard  to keep the art forms, especially the Jogati Nritya and Janapada songs, practised in rural Karnataka, Maharashtra, and parts of Andhra Pradesh aloft.

In the midst of all her struggles, deprivation, social isolation, and even rape, Manjamma Jogati perfected the Jogati Nritya and Janapada poems, Kannada language couplets in praise of multiple female deities, among other artistic expressions. She became so skilled at these that, along with her, the art forms themselves rose in prominence as she adorned hundreds of stages, both within and outside Karnataka.

Meet Manjamma Jogati

Now in her early 60s, in her youth, Manjamma Jogati, who was named Manjunath Shetty at birth, is part of the transgender community. After she became a part of the transgender culture in rural Deccan that venerates the fiery Goddess Renuka Yellamma, her family from Ballari district then disowned her. Within the community they all are considered ‘married to the goddess’.

Achievements

She was awarded the Karnataka Janapada Academy Award in 2006 and, 13 years later, she was elected President of the institution herself in 2019, becoming the first transgender to hold the position. In 2010, the Karnataka government honoured her with the annual Kannada Rajyotsava award.

To a congratulatory message on Twitter, she replied today saying, “Human is human; there are no lesser human beings. Art is Art; there are no lesser Art/Artists…For many like me – Art itself is Life!”