Like many other ‘Godmen’ and ‘Godwomen’ in India, who are revered for their ability to essentially have God on speed-dial, Radhe Maa, the self-styled and hugely popular Indian spiritual leader, has succeeded with her celestial phone booth. With followers carrying her around with rose and trident in both her hands, she is usually seen with the most non-God like smile written on her face. But who cares, didn’t she cure a ‘vague chest pain‘ of a devotee just by placing her hand on his chest?
With these qualities clearly meaning Radhe Maa is an incarnation of the Goddess, it’s strange to think the reason she has been picked up by headlines recently is not because of her miracles but her playing around in a red dress. Hashtags have flooded the social media walls not with her (fake) claims about being a Goddess but the dress in the #YoRadheMaaSoRed trend.
Radhe Ma being trolled in media is not a concern. But the fact that she has clouded the social feeds for a dress and not her fraudulent life suggests more about our issue with the female image – what is conventional, what is acceptable, and what women must follow – than anything else. There can be no compromise on this female ideal.
Asaram Bapu, another self-styled Godman in India who has been slapped with several sexual assault charges has been forgotten by the media even when the witnesses of his crimes are dying in mysterious circumstances. But a ‘maa’ wearing a mini-skirt cannot be tolerated by popular culture. Why? Because in Indian culture a ‘maa’ must have self-respect and only being covered from bottom to top can apparently give this self-respect.