Radhe Maa's devotees’ faith unshaken by dowry charges and ‘that’ dress
Neither dowry harassment charges in Mumbai nor accusations that she drove seven of a family in Gujarat to suicide seem to have shaken the faith of the devotees of Sukhvinder Kaur, 45, better known as ‘godwoman’ Radhe Maa.
The flamboyant Kaur, who claims to be an incarnation of Durga, found herself thrust into the spotlight when pictures and videos of her in a short red dress were posted on social media just days after the Mumbai police summoned her for questioning in the dowry case last week. Twitter exploded with hashtags such as #YoRadheMaaSoRed and the like.
Kaur’s followers, however, are having none of it. They come from all walks of life and include prominent personalities such as film director Subhash Ghai, MP Manoj Tiwari, ad guru Prahlad Kakkar and reality TV star Rakhi Sawant.
Sanjeev Gupta, CEO of Global Advertisers and a long-time follower, called the allegations against her “rubbish”. Gupta is a fixture at Kaur’s fortnightly gatherings, or satsangs, at which she presents herself to her followers, invariably dressed in red. These gatherings often take place in the homes of her various devotees, and usually begin at 8pm with the singing of bhajans and kirtans. This is followed by mata ki chowki, her version of guru darshan and the event concludes with prasad distribution.
“The satsang is often organised at the homes of followers and the number of attendants can be anywhere from 500 to 5,000,” said Gupta. He added, “Followers come willingly to get a glimpse of her. Every individual gets couple of minutes with her, during which time they offer her flowers, clothes, chocolates, sweets and toys.” Gupta, however, rejects the claim that Kaur calls herself an avatar of Durga. “She has never said that she is the reincarnation of god. She is a mother who shows a way to her followers,” he said.
Another follower is Shamim Shaikh alias Chintu, a Muslim politician who has been a devotee of Kaur for the past eight years. Shaikh told Hindustan Times, “I pray and offer namaz but I also visit Radhe Maa regularly. I get peace of mind as she converts my negative energy into positive energy. It isn’t just me – many of my Muslim friends are also her followers.”
Speaking about the dowry harassment case, Gupta said, “The woman who has pressed charges had a love marriage. Where did Radhe Maa come into the picture? Why would she tell the husband to leave his wife? She never did such a thing.” He termed Kaur a humanitarian and claimed she does not own “a single square-foot” of land, either in India or abroad.
Director Subhash Ghai was more circumspect in his defence. He wrote in an online post, “Being devotees of Mata Vaishnu Devi, me and my wife Mukta have been visiting Radhey Maa [sic] to take her blessings since last year at mata ki chowki at Borivali Bhuvan held by her old devotees. Even we held one mata ki chowki at our residence and invited her to bless us and other devotees. She had been very affectionate to both of us and treats us like her parents. We have never experienced any such kind of indecent act or atmosphere as being talked about in society today.”
Meanwhile, Rakhi Sawant said, “I know Radhe Maa very well. She is being blackmailed. Just because she is a woman, people are talking about what she should wear and how she should conduct herself. The same treatment is not meted out to godmen.” Sawant added, “She is a modern Mata. She has never claimed to be god but she said she is a believer of Mata. She is a messenger of god and I say she is a miracle.”