Polls may show Barack Obama running neck-to-neck with Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the US presidential race but the incumbent doesn't have a "prayer". Sure, both bids are powered by adrenalin, campaign cash and a gritty determination but the Republican challenger is getting assistance from an unexpected quarter - goddess Bagula Mukhi.
For the last nine days, a group of residents in Shajapur have been performing a yajna seeking Romney's victory at the Bagula Mukhi Devi temple at Nalkhed, some 50 km from the district headquarters.
"The yajna brings peace and prosperity and helps one attain victory over adversaries," said Dr Dushyant Vyas, a medical practitioner who's been presiding over the rites. That the temple is a "famed tantric site" may lend added weight to the prayers.
But hang on a second, why is a yajna for Romney's victory being held at a place most Indians, let alone the presidential challenger, be hard-pressed to find on the map. What's the connection?
Dr Vyas says the yajna ceremony, which began on the first day of Navratri and concluded Tuesday, was initiated on the request of Kannubhai Patel, an NRI friend of his who owns a chain of motels in the US.
"He (Patel) called me and asked me to perform the yajna," said Dr Vyas who has never been to the States himself but is following the presidential race on TV. Asked about Obama's lead after the latest television debate between the two contenders, Dr Vyas said, "There is still time to go for the elections. Wait and see what happens, the result will be favourable."
Dr Vyas, a self-described yogi, said 16 people including himself participated in the yajna performed for one-and-a-half hours in the morning and evening for the entire duration of Navratri.
Around 16 kilo of pure ghee and nearly one hundred kilo of barley, firewood and other material was used during the yajna. "We didn't take any money from anyone and paid for everything out of our own pocket," said Dr Vyas.
The election, the 57th quadrennial United States presidential poll, is slated to be held on November 6.