THE POWERFUL BEGAMS OF BHOPAL
The women of Bhopal has always been powerful, it is the Begums who ruled Bhopal, in fact it was a strong believe that if a man comes on the throne he will lose the kingdom, and so it happened, the last ruler was a Nawab. The famous Begams of Bhopal was well known for their power, confidence and for their style of living, it was unique. Even the foreigners who ruled the country at that time accepted them at power.
THE BOURBONS OF BHOPAL (the French Connection)
The Bourbons who had settled in Bhopal, Madam Juliana Bourbon was given the title of Dulan Sahib, and their palace was known as Dulan Sahib ka Mahal, it was in the middle of the city known as Lakherapura. They also had adopted the similar style of cloths and a traditional way of life. Although they were Christians. My mother Magdalene Bourbon came from that family, her dress the colours she wore, her language and the typical way of holding the [Batua] Purse, it represented the culture of Bhopal, Coming from that family and seeing the Begams from close quarters, and the Pathan women driving jeeps, in their thin beautiful Shalwar Kurtas, was admired all over the country, Their body language oozed with confidence and strength. The unfortunate tragedies which struck Bhopal, had adverse effect on these women, they were physically and psychologically both broken up, the effect of that treacherous poisons ness Gas still lingers, even after two decades.
THE GAS TRADGEDY OF 1984
Bhopal was suddenly struck by a man made chemical disaster, thousands of people died, women was the worst sufferer, they had lost their confidence, they needed help, seeing them and their mental condition, After consulting with Mother Teresa, who had come to Bhopal with a plain load of medicine and cloths for the Gas effected, we decided to lunch a women's organization, being close to Mother Teresa and having met Indira Gandhi a number of times, we decided to name it [Mahashakti] and Mother added Seva Kendra.
The Women had barely recovered from the Gas tragedy, Another disaster struck Bhopal, in the form of Communal riots.
COMMUNAL RIOTS OF 1992
Bhopal which had never faced any communal tension suddenly went up in flames, Both the Hindu and the Muslim women suffered, after 10 days of fanatic madness, the condition of the women of Bhopal became worse, they needed mental and physical support, we decided to sit in an open park just to talk to them. It went on for weeks, till we decided to start income generating schemes for our women living below poverty line, and Gas affected women.
THE BIRTH OF MAHASHAKTI
In 1992, officially, Mahashakti was registered it became an all women organization, working in the field of economic, social upliftment of women of Bhopal, a secular organization, Recognized by the State Government, registered in the Firms and society, having its own 3 work sheds at Dwarka Nagar near the railway station, in the Gas affected area of Bhopal.
Today, Mahashakti caters for 500 women in 3 work sheds allotted to the organization by the State Government, in the Gas affected area. BLOCK printing and Zardosi, are the main trades, The Central Government Human Resource Development has given us the project and all the assistance.