Bollywood music maestro and Oscar-winning music composer AR Rahman has received unparalleled love from the Indian audience irrespective of their religion. Applauded for his composition of Vandemataram, Rahman is also looked upon as a down to earth and a generous man devoted to music. But very little is known or discussed about his personal life. Rahman was born in a Hindu family from Tamil Nadu. The family converted to Islam after his sister had fallen severely ill and a Sufi had asked them to convert to Islam. It is said that in Sufism, his mother found great comfort. His mother, Kasturi Shekhar, then became Kareema Beegum. The family went on to become ardent followers of Islam in the later years.
However, the Rahman family has now become the center of a major controversy after Tamil Hindu lyricist and poet Piraisoodan made an appalling revelation on the family’s behavior. The noted rhymester recalls how AR Rahman’s family had voiced their abject derision towards the symbols and rituals connected with Hindu Dharma in front of him.
Having worked with Rahman in the past, Piraisoodan recollects an incident from the past. The poet narrates that Rahman had once invited him to his house and pen down lyrics for a song of an upcoming film. Honoring the invite, when the poet showed up at Rahman’s house, to his utter dismay, Rahman’s mother objected to the tilak adorning the poet’s forehead. She asserted that he must not wear tilak, kumkum, or Vibuthi while vising their house.
‘I refused to remove the Hindu religious marks on my forehead’, Piraisoodan narrates. It is pertinent to understand that the millions of devout Hindus in the south apply the Vibhuthi and Kumkum tilak on the forehead regularly. In such a scenario, the incident narrated by Piraisoodan doesn’t speak very highly of the Rahman family.
This is not the first time the Rahman family has stirred controversy by making communally charged comments. Rahman had once commented that the gods which his father used to worship had killed him, reports OPIndia. His father was a Hindu, so we infer that the music director meant that the Hindu deities had killed his father. Rahman has raised his daughter Khatija Rahman to be a devout Muslim who is not seen in public without a full burqa. Khatija claims that the burqa empowers her. While we have no objection about Rahman following Islam and its principles, for the admirers who have been loving his music for decades would also expect the bare minimum tolerance of their customs and respect for their deities from their icon.