While rest of the country celebrates the celestial wedding of Lord Rama with His Consort Sita, in what could be termed as a strange practice, here the transgender devotees of Sri Raja Rajeshwara Swamy marry Lord Shiva on the occasion of Sri Rama Navami.
The devotees celebrate Sri Rama Navami, the second biggest festivity after the Maha Shivaratri, in a unique style in this temple that no other shrine in the country witnesses such a ritual. Devotees, especially the transgender, in large numbers turn to Vemulawada at least a day before the Navami.
Dressed themselves as brides of Lord Shiva, the devotees wearing new clothes, bangles, turmeric and kumkum, offer prayers in the temple. These devotees also carry trishul (trident) and a bell as per the tradition of Vaidic Smartha Agama Sastra. The devotees then marry Lord Shiva placing jeera-jaggery (jeelakarra and bellam) on their head and tying flowers to the trishul.
They also wear a yellow thread around their neck. The ritual goes on parallel while the priests in Raja Rajeshwara Swamy temple perform the celestial wedding of Lord Rama. Meanwhile, as many as two lakh devotees descended on Friday. among which, majority of the devotees were married to Lord Shiva. About 3,000 transgender from Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu also converged on to the temple. The festivity concluded with Rathotsavam in the night.