Alleged Incarnation of Bahuchara Mata:
Stephen Cooper, aka Pema, aka Prema



1) Pilgrim's Progress from London to Gujarat's Eunuch Temple by Harsh Trivedi (March 28, 2007) - www.indiaenews.com
2) Tooting Man is Hindu Goddess by Julie Moult and John Askill, with Pamela Timms (March 30, 2007) - www.thesun.co.uk
3) Reincarnation of Bahucharaji, Patron of Indian Eunuchs? posted by Spiros Antonopoulos (March 30, 2007?)
      19) Comments re Reincarnation of Bahucharaji (Apr. 13, 2007 to Sept. 26, 2007) ["Pema"]
4) Eunuch Devi (March 30, 2007)
      18) Comment 7 re Eunuch Devi made by pranam (September 22, 2007) ["Pema"]
5) From Tooting to Temple (March 30, 2007) [offline]
6) God, No! How Can He Cure Infertility? by David Brown (March 30, 2007)
7) How to get Pregnant Imaculately! by Hugh Burnett (March 30, 2007) [offline]
8) Tooting Man Worshipped as Goddess (March 30, 2007)
9) Jobless Male Londoner Rechristened as Fertility Goddess in Indian State by Nidhi Sharma (March 31, 2007) [in the Internet Archive]
10) Mr Cooper? No, un dio: Adorato come una divinità / Mr Cooper? No, a god: Adored as a deity (March 31, 2007) [originally in Italian]
11) British Transsexual Causes Stir at Indian Temple (April 10, 2007) - www.reuters.com
12) British Transsexual Leaves Indian Eunuchs Out of Pocket (April 11, 2007)
13) UK man's new life as Indian 'goddess' by Rajeev Khanna (April 12, 2007) - news.bbc.co.uk [more accurate: "Pema" instead of "Prema"]
14) Homossexual britânico adorado como Deusa dos Eunucos / [ in English ] (April 25, 2007) [originally in Portuguese] ["Pema"]
15) A British Guy in Gujarat Discovers he is a Reincarnated Hindu Goddess (May 30, 2007)
      21) Comment purportedly made by Pema (March 19, 2008)
16) A Goddess for Men. And Non-Men. by Deepa Krishnan (June 09, 2007)
17) “Tooting man is Hindu goddess”!!! (September 20, 2007)
      20) Comments re “Tooting man is Hindu goddess”!!! (Sept. 20, 2007 to Jan. 25, 2008) ["Pema"]
•   Photos of Steve Cooper as Pema / Prema [this link will open in a new window]


1) Pilgrim's progress from London to Gujarat's eunuch temple | next || back to top

http://www.indiaenews.com/religion/20070328/44988.htm

Religion Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Pilgrim's progress from London to Gujarat's eunuch temple
From correspondents in India, 11:02 AM IST

The pilgrim town of Becharaji in north Gujarat, famous for its temple of Bahucharaji, the Hindu patron goddess of eunuchs, has an unlikely guest: Pamela, a tech-savvy youngster who quit London to find solace here.

While Pamela, also referred to as Prema by many at the temple premises, refuses to talk to the media, other inmates and temple regulars who have befriended the visitor say that the youngster's original name is Stephen.

'Some Gujaratis in London, noticing Stephen's eunuch-like body language and behaviour, helpfully told him about the Bahucharaji temple,' says Gunavant Joshi, a resident of Becharaji, about 110 km from Gujarat's main city Ahmedabad.

'Stephen then made a search on Internet on Goddess Bahucharaji, considered the goddess of eunuchs. He found all necessary information on the net.

'He even got a printout of the picture of the goddess and showed to a tattoo artiste and got a similar image tattooed on his left arm,' Joshi told IANS.

Clad in a saffron sari, Pamela moves around the temple complex without any inhibition as if she has been staying there for years.

A group of pilgrims notice her and flock to her, seeking blessings just as they do from other eunuch devotees of Goddess Bahucharaji. Without hesitation, Pamela blesses them -- in the ritualistic manner of putting the third finger on the forehead of the devotee, leaving even temple old-timers amazed.

In return, some pilgrims give her money as offerings -- from Rs.10 to even Rs.500. Pamela does not refuse, but usually donates the amount to the temple.

Her rising popularity has left old-time eunuchs at the temple jealous and angry. Some of them misbehaved with her and attempted to check her claim of being a eunuch.

'We were alarmed by the incident and soon provided her an accommodation in the temple guesthouse,' said a temple official.

Describing the visitor's daily schedule, the official said: 'Pamela gets up early in the morning. She attends all artis in the temple.

'Also, she has become a pure vegetarian. She eats Gujarati food in the temple dinning [sic] hall.'

Those acquainted with the visitor, here for the past three-four months, say that she is here on a six-month visa and intends to apply for an extension soon.

By Harsh Trivedi (Staff Writer, (c) IANS)



2) Tooting man is Hindu goddess | previous | next || back to top

http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2007140831,00.html [no longer online]
http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article23561.ece

Tooting man is Hindu goddess

By JULIE MOULT
and JOHN ASKILL
and from PAMELA TIMMS in India
March 30, 2007

[ IMAGE ONE (width=265 height=360) CAPTION:
"'Goddess' ... jobless Steve Cooper from Tooting"
http://images.thesun.co.uk/picture/0,,2007141628,00.jpg ]     [_ backup image _]

JOBLESS Steve Cooper has found work at last -- as an Indian GODDESS who thousands of Hindus believe can cure their infertility.

Pilgrims head to a remote jungle temple to be blessed by Steve, 32, from Tooting, South West London.

He places his third finger on the their [sic] foreheads and mutters: "The goddess is here".

Surrounded by followers, Steve told The Sun: "I love being here. I don't miss anything about Tooting."

He is regarded as a reincarnation of Bahucharaji, the patron of Indian eunuchs. He has been at the temple in the northern state of Gujarat for three months.

Every time Steve walks through the local village, people flock to greet him, shouting: "Jay Bahuchar Ma" -- "The goddess is here."

Gender bender Steve calls himself Pamela. But his devotees have dubbed him Prema -- Hindi for Divine Love.

[ IMAGE TWO (width=265 height=360) CAPTION:
"Devotion ... followers in India flock to see Prema, also known as Pamela and, er, Steve"
http://images.thesun.co.uk/picture/0,,2007141633,00.jpg ]     [_ backup image _]

He said: "All my life I just didn't fit.

"Now I've found my life. I plan to stay for good. I couldn't leave now.

"They revere me and believe I am a goddess. I feel what they feel in me."

Steve was living in a tiny flat in Tooting until deciding on his new career after Indian friends told him he looked and moved just like the ancient goddess.

As soon as he arrived at the temple he was treated as a deity.

He now gets up at dawn and dresses in a holy saffron robe before beginning the daily ritual of blessings.

Steve said: "I feel as if I have come home. I was meant to be here. When I first came to the temple, I sat down and smiled. Everything fell into place.

"After about 20 minutes everyone crowded around and I naturally started blessing people. When I touch people I connect with them."

Hindu pilgrims have no doubts about his powers. When we asked Bhanu Barot why she was so keen to receive Prema's blessing, she said, simply: "Because she is a goddess."

Another woman, Rekha, said she had travelled for days to be blessed by Steve. She added: "My sister-in-law came here and she got pregnant immediately.

"I am hoping the same will happen for me after receiving the blessing of the goddess." But last night Steve's stunned brother Justin Cooper said: "He's just an ordinary guy.

[ IMAGE THREE (width=540 height=209) (TRIPTYCH) CAPTION:
"Healing ... left, Steve uses his Hindu power middle, Steve's tattoo depicts the goddess and, right, Hindu elder pays his respects to Steve"
http://images.thesun.co.uk/picture/0,,2007141632,00.jpg ]     [_ backup image _]

"He never told me anything about this."

Steve now follows a strict vegetarian diet and sleeps in a spartan room. He lives among 80 eunuchs -- castrated men -- at the temple. But some have their doubts that he is equipped to be a goddess.

[ IMAGE FOUR (width=265 height=360) CAPTION:
"Goddess ... the real Bahucharaji"
http://images.thesun.co.uk/picture/0,,2007141629,00.jpg ]     [_ backup image _]

A eunuch called Sudha said: "He is a fake. I checked and he still has a penis.

"He is a male so can't be a goddess. He shouldn't give blessings." Steve, who has a tattoo of the goddess on his arm, just insisted: "I am both male and female."

He grew up in Shepshed, Leics, with brother Justin.

Unmarried printer Justin, 36, who still lives in the town, said: "I last saw him about four years ago.

"He had developed a fascination with Hinduism and was visiting temples in London.

"Then about eight months ago he sent me a text saying he was off to India -- then another arrived saying he was loving it.

"But we had no idea of the role he was playing."

Followers of the goddess Bahucharaji Mata believe she was once a princess who castrated her husband because he showed no interest in sex.

Sita Ben Rawal, a trustee of the temple, said of Steve: "People think it is the power of the goddess Bahucharaji that has driven her to come here.

"I'm surprised someone from London would want to come here but we are very happy."

Vanraj Thakor, who manages the temple guest house where Steve lives, added: "Even here, pilgrims come to receive blessings. It's incredible."

 DO you know Steve Cooper? Call our newsdesk on 0207 782 4101, text or call 63000 from a mobile, or email 63000@the-sun.co.uk



3) Reincarnation of Bahucharaji, Patron of Indian Eunuchs? | previous | next || back to top

http://souljerky.com/articles/reincarnation_of_bahucharaji_p.html Yoga beyond the yellow brick road.

Reincarnation of Bahucharaji, Patron of Indian Eunuchs? [originally, "Tooting man is Hindu goddess"]

The Sun

By JULIE MOULT
and JOHN ASKILL
and from PAMELA TIMMS in India
[March 30, 2007; compare with Entry #6, which will open in a new window]

JOBLESS Steve Cooper has found work at last -- as an Indian GODDESS who thousands of Hindus believe can cure their infertility.

Pilgrims head to a remote jungle temple to be blessed by Steve, 32, from Tooting, South West London.

He places his third finger on the their [sic] foreheads and mutters: "The goddess is here".

[ IMAGE ONE (width=540 height=265) CAPTION:
"Healing ... left, Steve uses his Hindu ‘powers’, middle, Steve's tattoo depicts the goddess and, right, Hindu elder pays his respects to Steve"
http://images.thesun.co.uk/picture/0,,2007141632,00.jpg ]     [_ backup image _]

Surrounded by followers, Steve told The Sun: "I love being here. I don't miss anything about Tooting."

He is regarded as a reincarnation of Bahucharaji, the patron of Indian eunuchs. He has been at the temple in the northern state of Gujarat for three months.

Every time Steve walks through the local village, people flock to greet him, shouting: "Jay Bahuchar Ma" -- "The goddess is here."

Gender bender Steve calls himself Pamela. But his devotees have dubbed him Prema -- Hindi for Divine Love.

He said: "All my life I just didn't fit.

"Now I've found my life. I plan to stay for good. I couldn't leave now.

"They revere me and believe I am a goddess. I feel what they feel in me."

Steve was living in a tiny flat in Tooting until deciding on his new career after Indian friends told him he looked and moved just like the ancient goddess.

[ IMAGE TWO (width=265 height=360) CAPTION:
http://images.thesun.co.uk/picture/0,,2007141628,00.jpg ]     [_ backup image _]

As soon as he arrived at the temple he was treated as a deity.

He now gets up at dawn and dresses in a holy saffron robe before beginning the daily ritual of blessings.

Steve said: "I feel as if I have come home. I was meant to be here. When I first came to the temple, I sat down and smiled. Everything fell into place.

"After about 20 minutes everyone crowded around and I naturally started blessing people. When I touch people I connect with them."

Hindu pilgrims have no doubts about his powers. When we asked Bhanu Barot why she was so keen to receive Prema's blessing, she said, simply: "Because she is a goddess."

Another woman, Rekha, said she had travelled for days to be blessed by Steve. She added: "My sister-in-law came here and she got pregnant immediately.

"I am hoping the same will happen for me after receiving the blessing of the goddess." But last night Steve's stunned brother Justin Cooper said: "He's just an ordinary guy.

"He never told me anything about this."

Steve now follows a strict vegetarian diet and sleeps in a spartan room. He lives among 80 eunuchs -- castrated men -- at the temple. But some have their doubts that he is equipped to be a goddess.

A eunuch called Sudha said: "He is a fake. I checked and he still has a penis.

"He is a male so can't be a goddess. He shouldn't give blessings." Steve, who has a tattoo of the goddess on his arm, just insisted: "I am both male and female."

He grew up in Shepshed, Leics, with brother Justin.

Unmarried printer Justin, 36, who still lives in the town, said: "I last saw him about four years ago.

"He had developed a fascination with Hinduism and was visiting temples in London.

"Then about eight months ago he sent me a text saying he was off to India -- then another arrived saying he was loving it.

"But we had no idea of the role he was playing."

Followers of the goddess Bahucharaji Mata believe she was once a princess who castrated her husband because he showed no interest in sex.

Sita Ben Rawal, a trustee of the temple, said of Steve: "People think it is the power of the goddess Bahucharaji that has driven her to come here.

"I'm surprised someone from London would want to come here but we are very happy."

Vanraj Thakor, who manages the temple guest house where Steve lives, added: "Even here, pilgrims come to receive blessings. It's incredible."

Link. (via)



19) Comments re Reincarnation of Bahucharaji | back to article || back to top

posted by Spiros Antonopoulos

TAGS - reincarnation, tabloid, transgender

Remarks

5 total remarks for this post. Add your own remarks below.

[1] Fri 13 Apr 2007 at 12:57PM

bb

Brilliant. I'm updating my resume STAT.

[2] Fri 13 Apr 2007 at 10:35PM

gbSk

"OY"...i mean "OM"

[3] Sat 14 Apr 2007 at 10:37AM

frelkins

how beautiful it is that transgender people who suffer so much abuse and discrimination are valued and recognized somewhere.

there are many ancient works of art depicting the absolute as male-female; who are we to judge esp. as the villagers and prema seem sincere?

i've actually been to tooting; it's not an upscale nabe by any means. it had a rather old hell's kitchen feeling about it to me -- the high street now has many indian sari stores, but beyond that, it's a scary place by london standards. so i wish prema well -- "conversion narratives" are often positive and uplifting.

[4] Sun 29 Apr 2007 at 04:49PM

Penny Puja Patel Wiliams

I am a post operative transsexual of 15yrs My family is Anglo-indian and i have worn sarees for many years. I visit India every year and I'm a devout Hindu. The story of Prema is both wonderful and uplifting. You could have reported the story with far more sensitivity.

I say my prayers for Prema each day and hope for her eternal happiness. The divine gift that the goddess has endowed upon Prema means that she is now liberated and will no longer have to be reborn again. Through her devotion she has acheived Moksha. Somthing that the rest of us Hindus spend many lifetines to obtain.

Well done Prema. My love and thoughts will be with at every Puja.

Penny Puja Patel Williams

[5] Wed 26 Sep 2007 at 09:38AM

desi upstart

Her name is Pema not Pamela, She doesn't stay with any Eunuchs, she stays at the temple trust guest house with the visiting brahmin.



4) Eunuch devi | previous | next || back to top

http://www.ultrabrown.com/posts/eunuch-devi

Friday, March 30

Eunuch devi

A British man has reportedly moved to Gujarat and is blessing devotees of a eunuch deity. But the existing eunuchs at the temple grouse that Steve Cooper of Tooting still has all his equipment:

'Some Gujaratis in London, noticing Stephen's eunuch-like body language and behaviour, helpfully told him about the Bahucharaji temple' . . . 'He even got a printout of the picture of the goddess and showed to a tattoo artiste and got a similar image tattooed on his left arm'. . .

A group of pilgrims notice her and flock to her, seeking blessings just as they do from other eunuch devotees of Goddess Bahucharaji. Without hesitation, Pamela blesses them -- in the ritualistic manner of putting the third finger on the forehead of the devotee . . .

. . . some pilgrims give her money as offerings -- from Rs.10 to even Rs.500. Pamela does not refuse, but usually donates the amount to the temple . . . 'Pamela gets up early in the morning. She attends all artis in the temple. Also, she has become a pure vegetarian. She eats Gujarati food in the temple dinning hall . . .'

[Pamela] is here on a six-month visa . . . [ Link: http://www.indiaenews.com/religion/20070328/44988.htm ] [i.e. Item #1 ]

[ IMAGE ONE (width=265 height=360)
http://www.ultrabrown.com/wp-content/uploads/steve-cooper-1.jpg     [_ backup image _]
LINK: http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2007140831,00.html (Item #2 )]

Devotees are flocking to Pamela/Steve:

Another woman, Rekha, said she had travelled for days to be blessed by Steve. She added: "My sister-in-law came here and she got pregnant immediately.

"I am hoping the same will happen for me after receiving the blessing of the goddess." But last night Steve's stunned brother Justin Cooper said: "He's just an ordinary guy..."

A eunuch called Sudha said: "He is a fake. I checked and he still has a penis. He is a male so can't be a goddess. He shouldn't give blessings." Steve, who has a tattoo of the goddess on his arm, just insisted: "I am both male and female . . ."

Followers of the goddess Bahucharaji Mata believe she was once a princess who castrated her husband because he showed no interest in sex. [Link: http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2007140831,00.html -- tabloid] [i.e. Item #2 ]

Cooper is now selling to Indians what they've been selling to the West for decades.

Adding to the intrigue over the carpetbagger (not rug muncher), the iconic representation of Bahucharaji Devi shows her riding a cock.

manish on Friday, March 30th, 2007, 4:21 pm in Humor, Religion ›

[ IMAGE TWO (width=304 height=450) [early 1900's depiction of Bahucara Mata, from a book]
http://www.ultrabrown.com/wp-content/uploads/bahucharaji-1.jpg ]     [_ backup image _]



18) Comment on "Eunuch devi" | back to article || back to top

http://www.ultrabrown.com/posts/eunuch-devi#comment-4947

7 Comments

[. . .]

7 pranam on September 22nd, 2007, 7:00 am > Link

This posting is disgusting, her name is Pema, she has never called herself 'Pamela', nor has she ever charged for blessing. She donates all her money that is freely given to the Temple Trust, to Ram Roti (feeds hungry people) and a proportion to complete building work on a new roof at a Becharaji school. Also she has never had nor has a boyfriend, neither does she stay in a 'spartan' room, I've seen the living conditions at guest house mataji and to put it mildly her living conditions are quite basic, 1 room with a squat toilet attached is the best she gets. Also she is not even from Tooting, London, UK, this all contrary to most of the press reports I've read. She came to India, blessed thousands of Gujarati Hindus and this is how she is thanked, by these disrespectful obscene remarks, I wouldn't even treat a paying guest with this contempt let alone a Mataji.

She say's she sees god in Indian, Hindu people, that when she touches them she connects with the god inside them. I have never met any English person before whom sees god in Indian people. Masculine and Feminine forces exist within all in varying degrees, I don't personally see the big deal. tell me why do people see bahucharaji on her, she looks nothing like the picture, if all is illusion then i'd place my money on which one is real. Nevermind not that it all matters now, she has since been missing from the temple for the last 2 months, people are not expecting her to return, I hope this all makes you very happy. If anyone has any questions about her stay I suggest they go and talk to the main Poojari at the main Bahucharaji temple in Becharaji, Gujarat.



5) From Tooting to Temple | previous | next || back to top

http://www.thedoghouse.co.uk/Articles.asp?ArticleType=NWS&CategoryCd=NW004&ArticleID=%7BA135F47D-9B72-488F-A426-8E3AEB930A6D%7D&NewsCategories=&NewsMonths=&NewsYears=
and/or http://tinyurl.com/ywkena [no longer online]

From Tooting to Temple
30/3/2007

A down-on-his-luck man from Tooting has carved out a new life in India as a Hindu goddess.

Unemployed Steve Cooper from the south-west London district packed up his trunk and heading to Gujarat after friends told him he moved like the eunuch goddess Bahucharaji.

The 32-year-old changed his name to Pamela and now resides over the temple of Bahucharaji in the pilgrim hotspot of Becharaji.

Now sporting a saffron sari and known as Prema -- meaning diving love in Hindi -- by locals and worshippers, the former-Londoner has been at the temple for three months and is said to "love" his new life.

It took 20 minutes after his arrival for Steve to "connect" with pilgrims and he now blesses visitors on a daily basis.

According to news service Ananova, he said: "After about 20 minutes everyone crowded around and I naturally started blessing people."

"When I touch people I connect with them," he added, claiming that he does not miss his old life in London: "All my life I just didn't fit. Now I've found my life. I plan to stay for good. I couldn't leave now."

Meanwhile, a resident of Becharaji told Indo-Asian News that some of the other temple residents are jealous of Prema's popularity and apparently made a public attempt to check Steve's claims of being a true eunuch.



6) God, no! How can he cure infertility? | previous | next || back to top

http://www.thelondonpaper.com/cs/Satellite/london/news/article/1157146932169?packedargs=aid%3D1157146932169%26suffix%3DArticleController
and/or http://tinyurl.com/2wh8yo

[ photo of hand on man's head: http://www.thelondonpaper.com/cs/Satellite?blobcol=urldata&blobkey=id&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobwhere=1157191074701&ssbinary=true
and/or http://tinyurl.com/2m8yjx ]     [_ backup image _]

God, no! How can he cure infertility?
by David Brown. Friday, 30 March 2007

An unemployed Londoner has finally found work -- as an Indian goddess hailed for curing the infertility of thousands of Hindus.

Steve Cooper, 32, has swapped his tiny flat in Tooting, south London, for a secluded jungle temple where he is visited by scores of pilgrims every day. He travelled to India to start a new life after being told by Indian friends in the capital he looked like the ancient deity Bahucharaji Mata, patron of Indian eunuchs.

The unlikely saviour is greeted in his village in the northern state of Gujarat by people saying: "Jay Bahuchar Ma" (the goddess is here).

Cooper said: "I love being here. I don't miss anything about Tooting. I plan to stay.

"They revere me and believe I am a goddess." Cooper, who calls himself Pamela and grew up with his brother Justin in Leicestershire, gets up at dawn and dresses in a holy saffron robe before starting his daily ritual of blessings.

It is understood he has not undergone sex change surgery and said: "I am both male and female."

One woman, Rekha, told thelondonpaper's [sic] sister title The Sun: "My sister-in-law came here and she got pregnant. I hope the same will happen to me after being blessed."



7) How to get Pregnant Imaculately! | previous | next || back to top

http://info.detnews.com/faithtalk/lettersindex.cfm?username=Hugh%20%20Burnett [no longer online]

Posts by Hugh Burnett

Fri. 03/30/07 09:14 AM

How to get Pregnant Imaculately!

Unemployed Londoner Steve Cooper has become an Indian Goddess.

Thousands of Hindus believe he/she can cure their infertility and head to a jungle temple to be blessed by Cooper aged 32, from Tooting, South West London. He/she places his third finger on the their foreheads and mutters: "The goddess is here".

He is regarded as a reincarnation of Bahucharaji, the patron of Indian eunuchs. Every time Steve walks through the local village, people flock to greet him, shouting: "Jay Bahuchar Ma" -- "The goddess is here."

Steve calls himself Pamela.

But his devotees call him 'Prema' -- Hindi for 'Divine Love.'

He said: "All my life I just didn't fit. Now I've found my life. I plan to stay for good. I couldn't leave now. They revere me and believe I am a goddess. I feel what they feel in me."

Steve was previously living in a tiny flat in Tooting.

Indian friends had told him he looked and moved like the ancient goddess.

He now gets up at dawn and dresses in a holy saffron robe before beginning the daily ritual of blessings.

Steve said: "I feel as if I have come home. After 20 minutes everyone crowded around and I naturally started blessing people. When I touch people I connect with them."

Hindu pilgrims have no doubts about his powers. When a woman was asked why she was so keen to receive Prema's blessing, she said: "Because she is a goddess."

Another woman, Rekha, had travelled for days to be blessed by Steve.

She added: "My sister-in-law came here and got pregnant immediately. I'm hoping the same will happen for me, after receiving the blessing of the goddess."

Steve now follows a strict vegetarian diet and lives among 80 eunuchs -- castrated men -- at the temple. But some have their doubts that he is equipped to be a goddess.

A eunuch called Sudha said: "He's a fake. I checked and he still has a penis. He is a male so can't be a goddess. He shouldn't give blessings."

Steve, who has a tattoo of the goddess on his arm, said: "I'm both male and female."

Followers of the goddess Bahucharaji Mata believe she was once a princess who castrated her husband because he showed no interest in sex.

A trustee of the temple said: "People think it's the power of the goddess Bahucharaji that has driven her to come here. I'm surprised someone from London would want to come here, but we are very happy."

The Manager of the temple guest house where Steve lives, said: "Even here, pilgrims come to receive blessings.

["]It's incredible."

Hugh Burnett, ,[sic] UK



8) Tooting Man Worshipped As Goddess | previous | next || back to top

http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30100-1258341,00.html

Sky News, UK

UK News

Tooting Man Worshipped As Goddess

Updated: 13:02, Friday March 30, 2007

A jobless man from south London has begun a new life -- as a goddess in India.

Steve Cooper, from Tooting, blesses Hindus who believe he can cure their infertility.

Pilgrims head to a remote jungle temple where the 32-year-old performs the ritual [sic]

According to the Sun he lays his finger on their heads and tells them: "The goddess is here."

Cooper was unemployed and living in a tiny flat before his move to India.

He packed his bags after Indian friends told him he looked and moved just like the ancient goddess Bahucharaji, the patron of Indian eunuchs.

As soon as he arrived at the temple in the northern state of Gujarat three months ago he was treated as a deity.

"All my life I didn't fit in," Cooper told the paper. "Now I've found my life. I plan to stay for good. I couldn't leave now."

He wears a holy saffron robe and lives among 80 eunuchs.

One pilgrim said she had travelled for days to be blessed by him. "My sister-in-law came here and she got pregnant immediately," she said.

Cooper added: "They revere me and believe I am a goddess. I feel what they feel in me. When I touch people I connect with them."



9) Jobless Male Londoner Rechristened As Fertility Goddess In Indian State | previous | next || back to top

http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7006911745 [in the Internet Archive]

Jobless Male Londoner Rechristened As Fertility Goddess In Indian State

March 31, 2007 3:03 p.m. EST

Nidhi Sharma -- All Headline News Staff Writer

Ahmedabad, India (AHN) -- A jobless man from London, who has a stark resemblance with an ancient Indian goddess of eunuchs, has been rechristened as Prema in the Indian state of Gujarat where he is now living as a fertility goddess.

Steve Cooper, 32, said he was out of work when friends told him he looked like the goddess Bahucharaji -- who according to legend castrated her husband because he preferred acting as a woman.

His followers believe Cooper can cure infertility. He lives among 80 eunuchs at the temple, eats a strict vegetarian diet and blesses people who come to visit.

"All my life I didn't fit in," Cooper told Ananova news. "Now I've found my life. I plan to stay for good. I couldn't leave now."

The temple of Bahuchara Mata is located in Shankhalpoor in Gujarat, India and the sacred place is today known as Bahucharaji. Steve says he is much happier at this place now than he was while living in a tiny Tooting flat.

Steve declared, "I love being here. I don't miss anything about Tooting."



10) Mr Cooper? No, un dio: Adorato come una divinità | English translation | previous | next || back to top

http://www.lastampa.it/redazione/cmsSezioni/esteri/200703articoli/19927girata.asp
and
http://www.claudiocaprara.it/?id_blogdoc=1426585

31/3/2007 (9:4)

Mr Cooper? No, un dio

Adorato come una divinità
PABLO TRINCIA

[ Image of Prema blessing a boy:
http://www.lastampa.it/redazione/cmssezioni/esteri/200703images/COOPER01G.jpg ]     [_ backup image _]

Gli abitanti del piccolo villaggio di Becharaji, nelle aride regioni settentrionali del Gujarat, probabilmente non se lo sarebbero mai aspettato. E forse stentano ancora a crederci. Eppure, ad aggirarsi tra le dense nubi di incenso che avvolgono i templi e gli altari venerati dai loro antenati, oggi c’è un allampanato ex-disoccupato inglese, che recita antiche preghiere in devanagari ed elargisce benedizioni a destra e a manca con aria da santone. Anzi, da divinità. Perché se l’etereo britannico, che fino a qualche mese fa mendicava lavoretti nei quartieri di South London, oggi avesse un bigliettino da visita, potrebbe inciderlo a caratteri cubitali: Steve Cooper, professione dio. E che dio! I fedeli di Becharaji vedono in lui la reincarnazione di Bahuchara, la divinità protettrice di tutte persone che in India rientrano nella categoria di hijra, o rappresentanti del terzo sesso: transessuali, ermafroditi ed eunuchi. Una categoria di persone che anche in una terra difficile e puritana come questa viene rispettata e temuta.

Capita spesso di incontrarli sui mezzi di trasporto pubblici, intenti a spillare rupie ai passeggeri battendo forte le mani e minacciando di sbandierare le proprie grazie davanti a tutti. Come Cooper sia arrivato ad assumere un simile ruolo resta un mistero. Anche se il nuovo Bahuchara bianco ha rivelato al tabloid inglese «The Sun» di essere stato incuriosito inizialmente da alcuni amici indiani di Londra, affascinati dalla sua presunta somiglianza con il nume della loro madrepatria. Certo, non capita tutti i giorni di sentirsi paragonati a un dio vedico degli eunuchi del Gujarat. Cooper avrebbe quindi deciso di studiare l’induismo, per poi intraprendere, all’età di 32 anni, il viaggio alla volta dell’India occidentale. Ma non prima di aver effettuato una rapida ricerca su internet, per trovare un’immagine del dio, che si è fatto tatuare sul braccio sinistro. Secondo il mito, Bahuchara Mata avrebbe reso impotente un uomo che l’aveva molestata, perdonandolo solo dopo che lui ha rinunciato alla sua mascolinità, cominciando a vestirsi da donna. Da allora, la dea si è presa a cuore la causa degli hijra, dei quali è protettrice. Secondo un’altra versione, la dea avrebbe castrato il marito, frustrata dalle sue disattenzioni coniugali, e dal suo vagabondare nei boschi vestito da femmina. Cooper vagabondava per le strade di Londra. Ma ai suoi fedeli questo non sembra importare granché. Arrivato a Becharaji - ha raccontato il dio britannico d’importazione - gli abitanti si sarebbero prostrati al suo cospetto, chiedendogli fertilità e proli numerose. Qualcuna, racconta il tabloid, sarebbe rimasta molto soddisfatta dalle sue prestazioni - spirituali, s’intende. Cooper, che nel frattempo è diventato vegetariano, pare sia uno dei più assidui, severi e indefessi frequentatori delle cerimonie e dei riti del tempio.

Tuttavia ci sarebbe un inconveniente. Il ragazzo, che tra le altre cose si farebbe chiamare «Prema» e si definisce parte integrante della comunità hijra, non è un eunuco. Secondo «India News», la sua popolarità gli ha immediatamente attirato l’invidia e la rabbia degli eunuchi del tempio, tra i quali circolano malignità sulla sua vera sessualità. I più audaci avrebbero persino tentato di svestirlo pubblicamente, pur di mostrare l’inganno. «Prema», da buon inglese diplomatico, ha trovato una soluzione che accontenta tutti, definendosi «sia uomo che donna». A quanto pare, ha avuto successo: il mito del britannico che divenne dio continua a raccogliere consensi.

[Translation performed with google's online software:]

10) Mr. Cooper? No, a God: Adored as a Deity | in the original Italian | previous | next || back to top

31/3/2007 (9:4)

Mr. Cooper? No, a God: Adored as a Deity

Adored as a deity
PABLO TRINCIA

The inhabitants of the small village of Becharaji, in the arid northern regions of Gujarat, probably not if they would ever waited. And maybe still find it hard to believe. Yet, wandering among the thick clouds of incense that surround the temples and altars revered by their ancestors, today there is a allampanato unemployed ex-English, which reads ancient prayers in devanagari and bestows blessings on the right and lacks air from santone. Indeed, from divinity. Because if the ethereal British, who until a few months ago mendicava jobs in the districts of South London, today had a visiting card could hack large fonts: Steve Cooper, profession god. And may God! The faithful of Becharaji see in him the reincarnation of Bahuchara, the protector deity of all people in India fall in the category of hijra, or representatives of the third sex: transsexuals, hermaphrodites and eunuchs. A class of people that even in a land difficult and puritana as it is respected and feared.

It often meet them on public transport, intent on staple rupees passengers beating strong hands and threatening to sbandierare their thanks in front of everyone. As Cooper has come to assume a similar role remains a mystery. Even if the new white Bahuchara revealed the English tabloid "The Sun" that he was initially intrigued by some Indian friends in London, fascinated by its alleged similarity to the number of their motherland. Of course, not every day that feel compared to a Vedic god of eunuchs of Gujarat. Cooper was therefore decided to study Hinduism, and then take, at the age of 32 years, the trip at a time of Western Europe. But not until you make a quick search on the Internet, to find an image of the god, who became a tattoo on her left arm. According to the myth, Bahuchara Mata would have made a powerless man who had molestata, perdonandolo only after he has abandoned his masculinity, beginning to dress a woman. Since then, the goddess has taken to heart the cause of hijra, which is protective. According to another version, the goddess would castrated her husband, frustrated by his marital neglect, and his strolling in the woods dressed as a female. Cooper vagabondava on the streets of London. But to his faithful this does not seem much import. Arrived at Becharaji - told the British import god - the residents would immediately begin his presence, asking him fertility and proli many. Some, tells the tabloid, it would have been very pleased by his performance - spiritual means. Cooper, who in the meantime has become a vegetarian, it seems to be one of the most frequent, severe and frequent indefessi of ceremonies and rites of the temple.

However, there would be a drawback. The boy, which among other things would call "Prema" and defines an integral part of the hijra community, is not a eunuch. According to "India News", its popularity has immediately attracted the envy and anger eunuchs of the temple, among them moving malignancy on his true sexuality. The most daring would even tried to svestirlo publicly, while showing deception. "Prema," good English diplomat, has found a solution that satisfies all, "definition is that man woman". It seems, has been successful: the myth of the British who became god continues to gather consensus.



11) British transsexual causes stir at Indian temple | previous | next || back to top

Reuters, USA
http://www.reuters.com/article/gc08/idUSDEL23288720070410

British transsexual causes stir at Indian temple
Tue Apr 10, 2007 5:02AM EDT

NEW DELHI (Reuters Life!) - A British transsexual has angered local eunuchs at a Hindu temple in north India because she monopolized the donations given by devotees seeking the eunuchs' blessing, media reports said.

Pamela, who was born Stephen Louis according to newspaper reports, flew to India in March after she learnt of a temple dedicated to Bahuchara Mata, the patron goddess of eunuchs.

She said she was tired of being an object of ridicule in Britain, and was attracted to India by the status that eunuchs and transsexuals sometimes enjoy, the Indian Express reported.

Dressed in a sari and with her forehead marked with a bindi, she has attracted crowds of curious devotees at the temple in Becharaji, a town in Gujarat state.

She accepts donations -- anything from 1 to 500 rupees (2 U.S. cents to $12) -- in return for a blessing.

"Their faith is touching, it brings me love and joy," the Express quoted the 32-year-old as saying.

Some local eunuchs -- known in India as "hijras" -- resent her for cutting into their earnings, and in one incident angrily rounded on her, disputing her transsexual status, according to the Indo-Asian News Service.

But others have befriended her, inviting her to visit hijra communities elsewhere in India.

As in much of the world, transsexuals in India often do not fit easily into society, and must put up with harassment and a legal system that criminalizes homosexual acts.

But widespread superstitions have also accorded them a certain amount of fearful respect, while a handful have been elected to public office.

Singing and dancing bands of sari-clad hijras will often appear, invited or otherwise, at weddings and at the blessing ceremonies of newborn babies.
Some people believe they can bestow good fortune or, if the donations given are not big enough, curse people with bad luck.

Pamela, who is being accommodated by temple officials, has no plans to return to Britain just yet.

"I do miss my boyfriend . . . but on the whole I was never happier in my life," she was quoted as saying.



12) British transsexual leaves Indian eunuchs out of pocket | previous | next || back to top

Belfast Telegraph - UK
http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/article2439861.ece

World News

British transsexual leaves Indian eunuchs out of pocket
[Published: Wednesday 11, April 2007 - 11:41]

When is a eunuch not a eunuch? Perhaps when she is a British eunuch.

For centuries India's eunuchs have travelled to religious ceremonies bestowing luck and good fortune upon those willing to pay for it. But now a British transsexual has caused upset at an Indian temple popular with eunuchs because her ability to attract large donations from devotees has left a number of her fellow transsexuals feeling shortchanged.

If reports in the Indian press are to be believed, a British transsexual called Pamela has become extremely popular with devotees at a temple in the Indian state of Gujarat who come for blessings from the temple's eunuchs, known as hijras. Dressed in a silk saffron sari, her forehead marked with a red tikka mark, Pamela looks like other hijras as she blesses pilgrims at the Bahucharaji temple, a place popular with childless women looking to become pregnant.

Hijras will normally give blessings to pilgrims if they donate a small sum of money, which is usually one or two rupees - less than a penny. But according to some reports Pamela, whose name has been Indianised by devotees to "Prema", has regularly attracted donations of more than 500 rupees, more than a day's wages for many of India's poorest.

Some of the temple's older hijras were reportedly so upset by her ability to attract devotees that they even hatched a plan to find out whether she was a real transsexual or not. "We were alarmed by the incident and soon provided her an accommodation in the temple guesthouse," an unnamed temple official told the IANS news agency, after finding out about the plan.

Details of who exactly Pamela is are hard to come by, largely because she has been reluctant to talk to the press. Journalists reported that her birth name was Stephen Louis, and that she comes from London.

"Some Gujaratis in London, noticing Stephen's eunuch-like body language and behaviour, helpfully told him about the Bahucharaji temple," said Gunavant Joshi, a resident of the town where the temple is based.

"Stephen then made a search on the internet on Goddess Bahucharaji, considered the goddess of eunuchs. He found all necessary information on the Net.

"He even got a printout of the picture of the goddess and showed [it] to a tattoo artist and got a similar image tattooed on his left arm," Mr Joshi said.

"Pamela gets up early in the morning," said the unnamed temple official. "She attends all [ceremonies] in the temple. Also, she has become a pure vegetarian. She eats Gujarati food in the temple dinning [sic] hall."

The Indian Express newspaper reported that Pamela went to the temple after becoming fed up with the insults thrown at her for being a transsexual.

Her presence at the temple has divided the local hijras. The younger hijras have befriended her but the older generations have repeatedly questioned her transsexual status.

Traditionally, hijras have had their male genitalia removed through a process known as nirvan (literally, "rebirth"), but many of India's more than one million eunuchs are not transsexual because they cannot afford the operation.

In India eunuchs are considered by many to bring good luck, but they are also heavily distrusted and live on the margins of society making a living by begging, performing ceremonies and often through prostitution.
According to the Indian Express, Pamela is not completely isolated from home. "I do miss my boyfriend," she said. "I am in touch with him through SMS. But on the whole I was never happier in my life."



13) UK man's new life as Indian 'goddess' | previous | next || back to top

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6546479.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/south_asia/6546479.stm

Last Updated: Thursday, 12 April 2007, 12:54 GMT 13:54 UK

UK man's new life as Indian 'goddess'

By Rajeev Khanna

BBC News, Becharaji

A British man worshipped as a goddess in India says he wants to stay there after his six-month visa runs out.

Stephen Louis Cooper has become the centre of attraction in the temple town of Becharaji in the western Indian state of Gujarat.

Devotees have been lining up to seek his blessings and some of them even take him to be the messenger of Bahuchar Mata, the goddess of Indian eunuchs, addressing him as Ma.

[ IMAGE ONE (width=203 height=252) CAPTION:
"Mr Cooper says he is on good terms with the eunuchs"
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/42789000/jpg/_42789553_cooper2_203.jpg ]     [_ backup image _]

Mr Cooper, who says he has been diagnosed with gender identity disorder, likes to wear a sari and be addressed as a woman.

Hence his new name, Pema, meaning lotus, by which everyone now addresses him.

'Energy'

When the BBC caught up with Mr Cooper he was sitting in the temple courtyard dressed in Indian women's clothes, with rings in his ears and nose as people lined up to seek his blessings.

He told the BBC that he lived in London for five years before starting the journey to Becharaji.

Having failed to qualify in law from Ruskin College in Oxford, he took to working on freelance basis as an illustrator, graphic designer and a photographer.

He said he originally came from Leicestershire but had been travelling all over the United Kingdom.

"All this while I never connected to anything. During my travels I came across pictures of several Hindu gods. On seeing the picture of Bahuchar Mata in one of the shops I could feel my energy being reflected in a different way.

[ IMAGE TWO (width=203 height=252) CAPTION:
"'They touch my feet and when I touch their head I feel the love and joy - pure and taintless' --Stephen Cooper"
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/42789000/jpg/_42789555_cooper203.jpg ]     [_ backup image _]

"It was then that people told me about this place and asked me to visit India," he says.

Mr Cooper has a picture of Bahuchar Mata tattooed on his left arm, which cost almost 100,000 rupees (more than £1,000; $2,000), he says.

The temple complex at Becharaji is visited by large numbers of eunuchs from all over India.

A trustee of the temple complex, PC Raval, told me that there is a belief that by paying their respect here they will gain manhood in their next birth.

There is a fair at the temple on every full moon night which is attended by many eunuchs. The star attraction of the last fair was Mr Cooper, whose blessings thousands sought that night.

[ IMAGE THREE (width=203 height=152) CAPTION:
"Devotees have been lining up for blessings"
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/42789000/jpg/_42789551_bless203.jpg ]     [_ backup image _]

"People here have been lovely. They touch my feet and when I touch their head I feel the love and joy -- pure and taintless," he says.

He has a visa that is valid for six months but would love to stay here for the rest of his life. "I will stay here as long as I feel welcome. Maybe for the rest of my life," he says.

'Keeps to himself'

During his month-long stay Stephen has picked up a few phrases in Gujarati like "kem Cho" (how are you?) and "chai levu che" (I want to have tea). He is particularly fond of the local sweet, laddoo.

"He normally keeps to himself. We cannot talk in English and he does not know Hindi or Gujarati. He just speaks in monosyllables and sits quietly in the temple meeting people," says Gunwant Joshi, a trustee of the Ramji temple.

Mr Cooper says that he wants to learn Sanskrit and Gujarati so that he can read more about Bahuchar Mata and Hindu mythology.

He has been staying at the guest house of the temple trust and all the money given to him by the people as offerings he says he has donated to the trust.

"I do my own washing and am called by people to their homes to have food. I love wearing a sari as I find wrapping a sari very sacred," he says.

Mr Cooper claims to be on very good terms with the eunuchs visiting the temple.

He refuses to do taped interviews and prefers one-to-one communication. And he says he feels hurt by the way the media, particularly the British press and the Indian television channels, have been reporting him. He says India is a big heart and Becharaji is its centre.

PC Raval says that it is matter of pride for the temple that a person of another faith has found solace there and wants to live there for the rest of his life.



14) Homossexual britânico adorado como Deusa dos Eunucos | English translation | | previous | next || back to top

AthosGLS - O maior portal GLS do Brasil
http://www.athosgls.com.br/noticias_visualiza.php?contcod=19596

Noticias Do Dias

Homossexual britânico adorado como Deusa dos Eunucos

25/04/2007:

Vários milhares de fiéis têm feito fila para receber a bênção de Stephen Louis Cooper, que acreditam ser um mensageiro de Bahucharaji Mata, a deusa dos eunucos indianos. Cooper, de 32 anos, gosta de se vestir com um sari – a vestimenta tradicional das mulheres hindus – e é visto como uma verdadeira divindade. Adoptou o nome de Pema, que significa lótus, pelo qual é chamado pelos seus numerosos fiéis.

Segundo afirmou o próprio, trabalhou em Londres como ilustrador, fotógrafo e designer gráfico antes de chegar à Índia, há cerca de um mês. Antes de viajar para a Índia tentou, sem êxito, obter uma vaga na Universidade de Oxford.

O britânico explica que sentiu a sua “energia reflectir-se de modo diferente” após ver um desenho de Bahucharaji Mata numa loja. “Foi então que uns amigos me falaram deste local e decidi viajar para a Índia”, acrescentou.

A divindade, que tem um visto de turista válido por seis meses, afirma que gostaria de poder ficar no local o resto da sua vida. “As pessoas aqui são muito amáveis. Tocam nos meus pés e, quando toco nas suas cabeças, sinto amor e alegria – pura e imaculada”, garante. “Ficarei aqui enquanto me sentir bem-vindo. Talvez para sempre”, sublinhou.

Os hindus acreditam que a deusa foi inicialmente uma princesa que castrou o marido porque não mostrava interesse por sexo. Crêem ainda que, graças a ela, as mulheres conseguem ficar grávidas. Em troca de cada benção, ‘deusa reencarnada’ recebe 500 rupias (oito euros).

Paulo Madeira com agências

[Translation performed with google's online software:]

14) Gay British worshipped as a goddess of Eunuchs | in the original Portuguese | previous | next || back to top

Noticias Do Dias

Homossexual britânico adorado como Deusa dos Eunucos

25/04/2007:

Several thousands of believers have done queue to receive the blessing of Stephen Louis Cooper, who believe to be a messenger of Bahucharaji Mata, a goddess of Indian eunuchs. Cooper, 32 years old, likes to dress with a sari – the traditional clothing of women Hindus – and is seen as a real god. Adopted the name of Pema, which means lotus, which is called by his numerous believers.

According himself said, he worked in London as illustrator, photographer and graphic designer before coming to India, there are about a month. Before traveling to India tried, without success, to obtain a place at the University of Oxford.

The British explains that felt its "energy reflect itself in a different way" after seeing a drawing of Bahucharaji Mata in a store. "It was then that some friends talked me this place and decided to travel to India," he added.

The divinity, which has a tourist visa, valid for six months, says that I wish I could stay in place the rest of your life. "People here are very kind. Tocam on my feet, and when play in their heads, feel love and joy – pure and unspoiled, "guarantor. "Ficarei here while I feel welcome. Perhaps forever, "emphasised.

The Hindus believe that the goddess was initially a princess who castrou because the husband showed no interest in sex. They believe that, thanks to her, women can become pregnant. In exchange for every blessing, "goddess reencarnada 'gets 500 rupees (eight euros).

Paulo Madeira with agencies



15) A British Guy in Gujarat Discovers he is a Reincarnated Hindu Goddess (May 30, 2007) | previous | next || back to top

remains of the desi
http://remainsofthedesi.wordpress.com/2007/05/30/a-british-guy-discovers-he-is-a-reincarnated-hindu-goddess/

A British Guy in Gujarat Discovers he is a Reincarnated Hindu Goddess

[ IMAGE (width=203 height=252) CAPTION:
"12 April 2007"
http://remainsofthedesi.files.wordpress.com/2007/05/british-dude-goddess.jpg ]     [_ backup image _]

I had to read it to believe it. The guy apparently had his divine revelation in a British shop when he happened to look at a picture of the Goddess Bahuchar Mata. In a temple in Gujarat he is being worshiped as her living reincarnation. And I have to say I'm impressed that Xenophobia isn't a visible factor here . . . He doesn't speak Hindi or Gujurati and no one is allowed to address him in English so he's basically blessing people with monosyllables . . . . wearing a sari . . . and living in Gujurat now on the same basis that other Indian hijras do . . . by taking food that is offered to him by devotees that he meets at the temple. His visa is expiring in six months and he doesn't want to leave. I wonder if the immigration authorities would have the balls to deport a reincarnated goddess in the body of a British man named Stephen Cooper!   link to article [ this is referring to Item #13 ]

May 30, 2007
Categories: GUJU, QUEER DESI, SEXY SADHUS, STRANGE DESI NEWS . . Author: remainsofthedesi



21) Comment on "A British Guy in Gujarat . . ." | back to article || back to top

1 Comment(s)

Comment by pema on March 19, 2008 10:33 pm [Is this the actual Pema? If so, please e-mail me.]

ya, i left india before my tourist visa expired and re-entered on a extendable x-type vedic purpose visa which was subsequencely terminated on date of expiry by Dehli immagration.



16) A Goddess for Men. And Non-Men. | previous | next || back to top

Desicritics.org
http://desicritics.org/2007/06/09/004344.php

A Goddess for Men. And Non-Men.
June 09, 2007
Deepa Krishnan

If you come with me on a bazaar walk in Bhuleshwar, I'll take you to the Mumbadevi Temple.

Stand next to me and peer into the little sanctum of the Mumbadevi Temple. You'll see her clearly -- the Goddess Mumba -- in all her glory. She is orange in the glow of the shendur. Her mango-shaped nosering, so typical of this region, glistens in the lamplight. There are offerings of flowers and fruits, the air is fragrant with incense. Crowds throng the little temple, pressing for a glimpse of her. On festival days, you can barely set foot inside.

Clearly, the Goddess cult is alive and kicking in Bhuleshwar.

Mumba is of course, only one manifestation of the Goddess. There are many others; you can see them carved on panels in the Mumbadevi temple.

There's Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning, with her customary swan. There's Lakshmi -- Goddess of Wealth, on a lotus. There's Durga, the warrior Goddess, riding her tiger. There's dark angry Kali, the fearsome Goddess of Destruction.

But alongside these familiar Goddesses, I saw something I had never seen before -- a Goddess on a Rooster.

I pointed it out to my friend Sandhya. She didn't know this Goddess either, so she asked the priest. 'This is Bahuchar Maa', said the priest. Neither of us had heard of Bahuchar Maa, so I came back home and looked her up.

Bahuchar Maa, apparently, is a very popular goddess in Gujarat, with a large temple in Mehsana. Interestingly, the website of the temple says the Goddess "gives virility to men". In addition, I found that Bahuchar Maa is also the Goddess of the hijras, the eunuchs/transsexuals of India.

Obviously, this goddess has something to do with sexuality, so I hunted around for more information, and I found a couple of curious folk tales.

Here's one of them: There was, once upon a time, a man who tried to molest Bahuchar Maa (Go figure. Who would want to mess with a lady carrying a sword and a trident?). Anyway, this man was cursed with impotency. So he gave up his masculinity, dressed in women's clothes and worshipped her. He was finally forgiven and cured of his impotence.

So -- Bahuchar Maa is a fertility goddess, and both men and women seek her blessings if they don't have children. Naturally, the hijras, who dress in women's clothing, are dear to her. In fact, in the temple in Mehsana, there is an annual garba dance by the Deviputras, the hijras. I wonder if the Hijras dance in prayer in Mumbai as well . . . do any of you know?

The other story around this Goddess is that she was once a princess who castrated her husband, because he dressed in women's clothes and refused the pleasures of her bridal bed. Ouch.

And here's a third interesting story -- there's a guy from London called Steve Cooper, who now lives in the Bahuchar Maa temple, wears sarees, and offers blessings to anyone who wants it. I'm not surprised. This is India. There's a goddess for everything. And everyone.

-----

Deepa Krishnan has a consulting practice in banking technology. She owns Mumbai Magic, a company that offers insightful, off-beat tours of Mumbai to overseas visitors.



17) “Tooting man is Hindu goddess”!!! | previous || back to top

http://dailycupofyoga.wordpress.com/2007/09/20/tooting-man-is-hindu-goddess/

Daily Cup of Yoga

blog

"Tooting man is Hindu goddess"!!!
Published September 20, 2007 funny , humor , yoga

I'm fairly speechless about the headline to this article [ i.e. Item #2 ] about the "Tooting man" who is believed to be a Hindu goddess?!? Besides feeling flabbergasted about the fact that a man claims to be a goddess (and the villagers believe him), I couldn't help but laugh about all the references to his hometown in England.

JOBLESS Steve Cooper has found work at last - as an Indian GODDESS who thousands of Hindus believe can cure their infertility.

Pilgrims head to a remote jungle temple to be blessed by Steve, 32, from Tooting, South West London.

He places his third finger on the their foreheads and mutters: "The goddess is here".

Surrounded by followers, Steve told The Sun: "I love being here. I don't miss anything about Tooting.
Stop laughing!! This is serious work he's now doing. I'm not sure why I went to school for all these years. (By the way, I passed the bar exam and am moving to Florida. I have no plans to become a goddess though). Apparently he forgot to tell his brother back in Tooting about his new job in India.

But last night Steve's stunned brother Justin Cooper said: "He's just an ordinary guy.

"He never told me anything about this."
It also seems that not all villagers are convinced that Steve is qualified to be a goddess:

Steve now follows a strict vegetarian diet and sleeps in a spartan room. He lives among 80 eunuchs - castrated men - at the temple. But some have their doubts that he is equipped to be a goddess.

A eunuch called Sudha said: "He is a fake. I checked and he still has a penis. (uh-oh!)

"He is a male so can't be a goddess. He shouldn't give blessings." Steve, who has a tattoo of the goddess on his arm, just insisted: "I am both male and female."
Fair enough. I was just wondering if there was anyone out there who could confirm the veracity of this Tooting man's claims to be a goddess.

[ pic: http://images.thesun.co.uk/picture/0,,2007141632,00.jpg
IMG ALT=
"Healing ... left, Steve uses his Hindu power middle, Steve's tattoo depicts the goddess and, right, Hindu elder pays his respects to Steve"
height="209" width="540" ]     [_ backup image _]



20) Comments re “Tooting man is Hindu goddess”!!! | back to article || back to top

10 Responses to ""Tooting man is Hindu goddess"!!!"
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[1] tiffany83
September 20, 2007 at 2:21 pm

Are you kidding me?

[2] Mary
September 20, 2007 at 2:53 pm

I can't stop laughing! Sorry, but this is the kind of thing that makes any kind of spirituality a joke. Like the tatt though

[3] Gypsy Girl
September 20, 2007 at 5:22 pm

Well I suppose it should make perfect sense to us that if the American Actor Steven Seagal can be recognized by the Tibetan lama Penor Rinpoche to be the reincarnation of Tulku, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/steven_seagal), that sooner or later some dude would come up with the bright idea to make himself a God uh . . Goddess . . . Which is it . . . he said in the article he is both male and female, so maybe he is a god AND a goddess . . . . What next???
And you're right Mary . . . it does make a joke out of spirituality

[4] stottpot
September 24, 2007 at 12:10 am

I can see why you think he is making a joke out of spirituality, but that's based on the assumption that
a. he's taking the piss or
b. men are incapable of being Goddesses.

What if he is a Hindu goddess?
What if people who visit him have their infertility cured?
What if Steve Cooper and the people around him find great meaning and value from these interactions?

[5] samvega
September 24, 2007 at 6:43 am

I know it's really ten year oldish, but I thought it was funnier that the guy was from Tooting. Yeah, that's lame, I know. Sorry for the dumb humor.

[6] yogaguide
September 25, 2007 at 11:22 am

I'm with you, samvega! I thought Mike Myers was going to be a part of this story . . . .

[7] Linda
October 25, 2007 at 9:29 am

where is the story? the link goes to the home page of the Sun where there lots of pictures of boobs!

[8] Samvega
October 27, 2007 at 7:17 am

@Linda
I guess the story is no longer available and the page has been redirected. Sorry about that!

[9] Sreekishen
January 25, 2008 at 2:25 am

This whole story is being misrepresented . . . and I'm really not surprised.
Oftentimes, westerners tend to just assume that they know all of the facts when indeed, they dont. I mean, look at Iraq- there you have a far more dangerous outcome from the same basic tendency to make huge cultural assumptions based on scant, sensationalistic data.

Sorry darling, but if you are going to poke fun at other peoples beliefs, it would be better if you really understood what it is that youre actually making fun of, rather than showcase what you have wrong.

The temple this man is in is dedicated to the goddess Bahuchari Amman, in Gujarat. This goddess has a long tradition of maintaining gays, transvestites and transexuals in her temple service.

They are not considered to BE the goddess (as your version would suggest), but they are believed to carry her "shakthi" with them. They are sacred to her, and it is believed that she stays near them.
So people come to get their blessings since they are coinsidered, by virtue of their social position, to be close to this goddess. Their liminality in society puts them in close proximity with this deity, just as the liminality of kurathis in south India puts them in proximity to goddesses like Angalaaman or Kali. Yes, these are archaic pagan beliefs, but no less primitive than the notion of, say, transubstantiation.

Basically, Bahuchari's cult has created a safe haven for gay and transgender men in a country where many people are strongly homophobic (and, worse, where they are free to act on that hatred). As an openly gay man from Kerala (one of the few openly proud ones that I know), this truth is far more real to me than it would be to any of you out there.
And to me, shrines like those dedicated to Bahuchari, Aravan, Mariyamman etc . . . are symbols of hope, as well as strong evidence of the persistence of same-sex love in India's cultural heritage (however denied or muted it might be).

This fellow has gone to Bahuchari's temple because the community there offers him something which he cant get here in the West, even in gay-friendly communities, and that is a respected position in a traditional clergy.

You seem to delite in what seems to be the foolishness of brain-dead peasants, or the desperation of Drag-queens. But i doubt you have the depth of mind to understand the powerful social forces that are at work in religious venues that allow those who are marginalized to speak and act with dignity.

If it makes you laugh, that's probably because its more comforting to dehumanize cultural expressions which are alien to you, and if thats the case, your yoga is really not doing much for your mind.

[10] Sreekishen
January 25, 2008 at 6:18 pm

You know, I probably should not let it bother me, but it has.

Not that any of you would care, but I think that all of you who find such "unbelievable hilarity" in this story ought to be called out on this one.
And to those of you who prefer to that think it "makes a joke out of spirituality", i beg you to take a closer look, not at the story, but at yourselves.

First of all, it's just so disgustingly bougie that the person who started this thread is "failry speechless" at the religion of a people who will never have even a quarter of the opportunities which "fairly speechless" (FS) has had.

I mean, FS goes to the trouble to tell us of his/her fabulous education and wonderful career, which s/he seems to juxtapose with Bahucharas cult in a somewhat defensive way (as if those people somehow dont work as hard as FS does).

Most of the people who frequent Bahucharis temple (Hijras or otherwise) spend about 12 hours a day bent 90degrees at the waist . . .
No, theyre not doing "the triangle" or the "sun salutation"; theyre sweeping the streets, washing the floors and harvesting the food of higher-casted elites (many of whom are ungrateful acharyas and condescending professionals with fabulous degrees as well).
I am from India, and anyone who has been there knows what I'm talking about.

So what if these people have a religion that deifies transexuals?
So what if they beileve in spirits and shades, stocks and stones?

They might not be as "educated" or "spiritual" as anyone on this website, but their religion is one of tolerance and acceptance, and (as I said in my previous post) provides a much needed refuge for transgender and gay people in India. Moreover, Hijra communities ("houses" as they are known . . . these people are far more organised than you might want to think) include people of different castes and religions, mixing with an intimacy unkown even in more modern Indian contexts.

Freelance Hijra sprirtualists cross the borders of gender, ethnicity, caste and religion all of the time, playing a ceremonial role not just at the shrines of Hindu mother goddesses, but even Muslim saints. So its not surprising at all if a white person from Tooting should join their ranks, their communities are and always have been eclectic.

YOu might say that their religion "makes a joke out of spirituality", content that you are the real arbiter on what "spirituality" ought to mean. In saying that, you assume that you understand the real lives, needs and concerns of the people in question, . . . and you do not, you only know a sensational article meant to shock and entertain.

But say what you will, theirs is a far more pleasant and refreshing faith than the kind of genocidal violence which has dominated the religous scene in Gujarat more recently.

YOu probably do not know about the bloodshed in Gujarat. Names like Narendra Modi and Babu Bajarangee Patel (or the hundreds they are responsible for killing) probably mean nothing to you. YOu probably know nothing about the RSS or other faith-based militias. YOu probably dont know that the Bahuchara cult is one of the more peaceful bulwarks against the dangers posed by religious and communal tension.

YOu all seem so "shocked" about Steve Cooper and the Bahuchara cult . . . but you havent a clue in your dear little minds what the real problems in Gujarat are, or how critical that state can be with respect to subcontinent at large.

The fact that Steve Cooper elicted more of a reaction in the West than Babu Patels open admission to eviscerating a pregnant muslim woman in the 2002 riots says it all.

YOur delight in ridicule and your narrow understanding speak not only to cultural insensitivity, but to an alarming lack of awareness.

For shame!


-------------------- addendum --------------------

CLOSE-UP OF THE TATTOO:

http://arbroath.blogspot.com/2007/03/unemployed-london-man-becomes-hindu.html
http://img164.imageshack.us/img164/755/stevecooper1zs1.jpg     [_ backup image _]

AND

http://www.weirddaily.com/?p=8298
http://www.weirddaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/0331006.jpg     [_ backup image _]


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This page first created 7/2/07. Copyright © Stephe Feldman, 2007. Last update: 6/26/08.