Kolkata: As the world celebrates the Vatican approving sainthood for Mother Teresa, a 50-year-old woman, whose "miracle" cure from cancer was instrumental in the 2003 papal recognition that the nun has entered heaven, says the Nobel laureate has been more of a god for her for the past 17 years.
Diagnosed with ovarian tumour and apprehending death, Monica Besra says she was "miraculously cured" in 1998 after prayers on the first anniversary of Mother Teresa's death.
"When I looked at Mother's picture, I saw rays of white light coming out from her eyes. Then I fell unconscious. When I woke up the next morning, the lump was gone," the tribal woman from West Bengal's South Dinajpur district told IANS, remembering the fateful night of September 5, 1998.
"She has been like god for me, a saint for me. It's great news that she will be declared a saint now," said Besra, who now lives with her five children in Nakor village, some 400 km from Kolkata.
Besra's cure was subsequently recognised by the Vatican and the nun was beatified in 2003 as the "Blessed Teresa of Calcutta" -- the first step towards sainthood.
Having attended Mother's beatification ceremony, Besra wishes to attend her canonisation expected to take place in 2016.
"It's all for Mother that I am living a healthy and happy life. My life would be fulfilled if I can attend her sainthood ceremony," said Besra, who has been crying in joy ever since the announcement that Pope Francis has recognised a second miracle and approved her canonisation.
While Besra and many others have been rejoicing over Mother Teresa's elevation as a saint, the Science and Rationalists' Association of India (SRAI), an organisation promoting rational thinking, has opposed the canonisation contending it will spread superstitions.
SRAI president Prabir Ghosh, who has dismissed Besra's 'miracle cure' as propaganda by the Missionaries of Charity, said that while Mother Teresa rightly deserves sainthood for her service to mankind, attributing miracles to her would be "criminal".
"Living in the 21st century, when science has made so much progress and people are planning for space tourism, what can be more ironical and equally damaging that something like a miracle is being promoted.
"If she is bestowed with sainthood for her service to mankind, it will be a great thing. But to attribute miracles to her is criminal. It will only spread superstitions and take people away from medical science," Ghosh told IANS.
Ghosh, who has extensively campaigned against Besra's claims of a miraculous cure, is mulling to do the same again this time.
"We have already proved that Besra was healed because of extensive medical treatment and not because of any miracle. I know my opposition to her sainthood will create controversy but it is my duty to promote rational thinking.
"We cannot allow this farce of sainthood, and spreading false stories of magic cure which would only mislead our poor common people," he added.