Bhavani Nath
Bhavani NathTwitter

Bhavani Nath is probably the first Hindu monk to become a Haji. A devotee of Kali in her childhood, she also began to follow Islam after her family threw her out due to the revelation of her sexuality.

As a teenager, Bhavani identified herself as intersex which caused her to be ostracised from her friends and family. However, she did not allow herself to be bogged down by her obstacles and went to embrace another religion which sent her on a journey to Mecca.

It was in 2007 when Bhavani met a kinnar guru, Haji Noori, who introduced her to Islam and showing her a whole new path. This opened a whole new world to Bhavani who took it upon herself to go on a Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and become a Haji.

She was then renamed as Shabnam and serenaded New Delhi's elite with her songs.

"Ambiguity around my religion became their ammunition. I embraced Islam as it was a ticket to the Hijra Samaj. As a Muslim, I followed every tenet of Islam, fasted during Ramzan and even went for the Haj in 2012," Bhavani was quoted as saying by The Times of India.

Bhavani also created history this year when she participated in the shahi snan at Kumbh Mela at Prayagragraj.

Bhavani's challenge in 2015 was to establish her own akhara or a monastery which was not quite so simple. This is because of the Akhil Bhartiya Akhara Parishad which did not deign to give it the status of a separate akhara.

In 2015, things took a U-turn and the akhara received recognition by the Parishad. However, the members of the akhara, who belong to the transgender community, could not participate in the shahi snan or taking out the ceremonial ride at the Ujjain Kumbh, reports TOI.

Before the Kumbh this year at Prayagraj, Bhavani's akhara received the support of a bigger one, named the Junas, which helped them walk proudly to the shahi snan.