From an ordinary dressmaker to an incarnation of a deity, the meteoric rise of spiritual leader Radhe Maa or Sukhvinder Kaur remains an enigma to the people of her birthplace and those in her husband’s town in Punjab.
The Mumbai-based 50-year-old holy woman, who is facing allegations of dowry harassment, has become a social media rage as a video clip reveals her dancing to a Bollywood tune and still images show her lounging on a sofa in a red miniskirt with a cap and knee-high shoes to boot.
The leaked images of her free-spirited ways showed the alter ego of Param Shradhey Shri Radhe Maa, who appears before her legions of devotees in glittering red saris, heavy jewellery and make-up with a trishul, or trident, in her hand.
In Gurdaspur’s Dorangla where she was born to a state electricity board employee, people spoke in hushed tones about her dramatic rise. In Mukerian, where she was married to Mohan Singh in the late eighties, no one was willing to speak openly either.
A former follower, Surinder, said he had warned her many times to stop her alleged dodgy practices. “She used to boast of her big fan following and believed that she would never be exposed.”
She is known to shower expensive gifts on her high-profile devotees. “Before moving to Mumbai, she used to hold satsangs in Mukerian. Once I told her that in my dream, she had gifted me a gold chain. The very same day, she asked her staff to hand over a gold chain to me,” said a follower.
Radhe Maa, who belongs to a backward class and went to a government school in Dorangla, was married off in her teens. She has three sisters, who are also into spirituality, one of them looking after the ashram in Mukerian.
It's not known exactly when Radhe Maa went to Mumbai and she hardly visits Punjab these days.
She currently stays at an undisclosed house in Mumbai’s Borivali while her relatives are in Kandivali.
Mumbai Police are investigating a complaint by a woman that Radhe Maa instigated her husband and in-laws to harass her for dowry.
Her temple in Mukerian is now closed for visitors with security personnel deployed outside.
(With inputs from Kamaljit Singh Kamal in Gurdaspur and HTC Mumbai)
Read:Why social media is trolling self-styled 'godwoman' Radhe Maa