Dubai: Everything that shines is gold, at least in the case of the ‘Golden Baba’.
The self-proclaimed Indian spiritual leader is famous for wearing many kilograms of gold while participating in the annual Kanwar Yatra or pilgrimage. And Indian tweeps can see the irony.
He is a top trend today, as the man also known as ‘Golden Puri Maharaj’ began his 25th pilgrimage wearing 20 kilograms of gold. He is well known among devotees of the pilgrimage and the 56-year old enjoys the attention.
Kanwar Yatra is an annual event that is observed by followers of the Hindu deity Shiva. Every year, they undertake a journey, which involves collecting water from the river Ganges, and then offering it at local Shiva temples in their individual hometowns. He told the Indian news agency ANI: “I am the centre of attraction. Wherever I go, people come to see me. Police has to provide security.”
It is believed that before becoming a spiritual leader, he was a businessman in Delhi with a criminal record. He apparently took on this spiritual avatar to escape police action.
In many images, he is seen wearing saffron-coloured clothes with numerous gold chains and necklaces. His entourage includes people holding machine guns, and is also accompanied by a police officer.
In the same report he added: “There was a time when I used to wear only a few grams of gold, but with “bhole ki kripa” (blessings), I am now wearing gold in kilos. It’s so heavy, you will not be able to hold it… I have spent Rs1.25 crore (Dh45 million) in this year’s Kanwar Yatra (pilgrimage). There are 250-300 pilgrims with me, and I arrange everyone’s food, ambulance, shelter.”
According to an Indian newspaper, in addition to wearing gold, last year the he joined the journey with six expensive cars. Social media users were quick to find his antics questionable.
Tweep @AMerukar posted: “What is source of income of Golden Baba to buy these golden ornaments?”
@ankitvdsi said: “Enwrapped completely in meteorologist stuff, charlatan in facade pretending to be practicing asceticism.”
Another tweep echoed similar sentiments and connected the man’s wealth to the absconding Indian businessman, Nirav Modi, who scammed many people and left the country to avoid getting arrested earlier this year.
@REHAAN1111 said: “Diamond babas have already left the country with the help of our PM.”
@Shankar63593242 posted: “These people are a national shame. How can the baba get gold, diamonds etc.? Is he paid wealth tax for his ornaments? Why is the government keeping quiet on this issue?”
@akbose007 said: “The significance of the picture is that a civilian …is carrying a rifle for his…protection. How can a civilian possess such a deadly automatic weapon? Where is the government regulation on that? On whose order and under what circumstance can they fire?”
Despite this, Golden Baba has quite a following during the pilgrimage. His ‘fans’ click selfies with him and wait for his cavalcade to arrive.