Fortune tellers make merry

Fortune tellers make merry

Poll-bound Himachal

The poll-bound hill state of Himachal Pradesh takes its religion seriously, and its rituals, too, though everything else is being dubbed “superstition”.

With nearly 46 lakh registered voters being Hindus, and 50 per cent of them belonging to the upper class, the state is now abuzz with rituals, not to mention the lengthening queues before the portals of astrologers.

With polls just weeks away, politicians want to appease the gods to ensure their winning chances.

They carefully choose the right time for poll activities and count up to the last second before filing their nomination papers.

Despite having a week to file their nominations for Nov 4 Assembly polls, very few candidates actually did the paper works for the first five days.  The trickles, however, became a torrent in the last two days as nearly 230 candidates –including Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal— thronged the offices on Tuesday to finish the formalities.

It is not a coincidence that the nine-day Navratri festival began on Tuesday, which is perceived as auspicious.

For the state’s fortune tellers, election time is probably the busiest with politicians across parties demanding their skills to please the gods through special prayers, hawans and offerings at the temples.

The candidates, apparently, are not willing to take any chances, readily performing all kinds of rituals from dropping dry coconuts in rivers to feeding ants on the roadside.

Small wonder that many fix the launch date, and time, for campaigning after serious consultations with sooth sayers.  Despite strident denials, many politicians believe in auspicious numbers.

Dhumal, for instance, still rides in his sedan with 0009 number plate. It is common knowledge that the number nine is auspicious, a reason why Buddhist spiritual leaders chose 9 minutes and 9 seconds past 9 am for the swearing-in ceremony of its first-ever democratically elected prime minister in exile, Lobsang Sangay, in Dharamshala last year.

Among the large number of candidates who filed nominations on Wednesday was former chief minister and union minister Virbhadra Singh who filed the papers in the afternoon at the time designated by his astrologer.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox