Transgender to take on Modi in Varanasi

Up against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the parliamentary elections from Varanasi is a rather unique candidate in the form of transgender politician Mahamandaleshwar Hemangi Sakhi Ma.

The 47-year-old has been fielded by the Uttar Pradesh chapter of the right-wing Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM).

The other contestants in the fray are the Congress’ Uttar Pradesh unit chief Ajai Rai and the Samajwadi Party’s (SP) Surendra Singh Patel.

Polling in Varanasi will take place on June 1 in the last phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

The ABHM announced that Sakhi Ma, a Lord Krishna devotee, is contesting an election for the first time and will push for the rights of transgenders.

According to The Mint, Sakhi Ma was born in Baroda, Gujarat. Her family shifted to Mumbai as her father was a film distributor. She has also acted in a few films and appeared in popular TV shows.

News18 said Sakhi’s devotion to Lord Krishna started at the International Society for Krishna Consciousness temple in Mumbai. She eventually landed in Vrindavan, a holy town in Uttar Pradesh where Lord Krishna is said to have spent his childhood.

Later, she came to be known as Hemangi Sakhi Ma, the world’s first transgender “kathawachak” (raconteur) of the sacred Bhagavad Gita.

She has narrated stories from the Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana and Devi Bhagavata Purana in many venues across the world, according to her Facebook page.

In February, 2019, her coronation as Acharya Mahamandaleshwar took place at the Kumbh Mela.

Mahamandaleshwar means “superior of numerous monasteries” or “superior of a religious district or province”. The title implies a great spiritual leader and is used by some Hindu monks of the Dashanami order of swamis.

Sakhi Ma was also honoured with the title of Bhagwatbhushan Mahamandaleshwar by the Akhil Bharatiya Sadhu Samaj (All India Monastery Council), one of the main organisations of Hindu sants (saints) and sadhus (ascetics).

Sakhi Ma belongs to the Nirmohi Akhara, which along with the Shri Dattatreya Akhara are the two most prominent akharas in the country.

In 2019, Mr Modi won the Varanasi seat with 63 per cent of the votes. Mr Rai finished third behind Samajwadi Party’s Shalini Yadav.


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