Fortune tellers are in huge demand in Bihar at the best of times. But in the poll season, forecast frenzy reaches farcical proportions as starry-eyed politicians and followers fret over planetary combinations and their bearing on electorate behaviour.
Political circles in Bihar are abuzz with news of a major planetary shift this month, which has many aspirants worried. Politicians are willing to fork out anywhere between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 2 lakh for priests to chant shlokas 92,000 times over 10 days to appease malevolent grahas (planets), particularly Shani, Rahu and Mangal.
Vernacular newspapers are full of advertisements by palmists, astrologers and tantriks offering anything from hypnotism to rituals that can defeat rivals in politics, at the workplace and in love.
"Tantra, mantra, bandish and tools to neutralise ghosts, black magic, evil and spirits available,” says an advertisement by a 'Vashikaran' specialist (hypnotist) who calls himself Baba Salauddin Bangali.
Supremely confident in his ability, Maulana Akbar Khan has advertised a challenge: “If any Mullah, Maulvi, Pandit or Baba can cancel out my power, or what I do, I will pay Rs 25 lakh to him,” while promising, “Dushman se sada ke liye chhutti (complete deliverance from enemies)”.
Business is good, to say the least, an astrologer told HT. “There is a torrent of aspirants and some well-established leaders. Most want planetary modifications to ensure seats and victory,” he said, requesting not to be named.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad famously consulted priests in Vindhyachal before last year's Lok Sabha elections and got a Mahasudarshan Yajna conducted at Hariharnath temple in Vaishali to ensure victory.
“A group of ticket seekers assigned us the responsibility to perform rituals at Vaishno Devi temple and at Bhairon Sthaan in Jammu and Kashmir to ensure tickets,” said Naval Kishore Mishra, an astrologer set to leave for holy spots on September 23.
Baidyanath Jha Shastri, astrologer to Union minister Ramvilas Paswan, former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra and leaders such as Ramkripal Yadav and Nandkishore Yadav, said, "It depends upon personal situations. Rituals are recommended for planetary positions. When a rival is very strong, Bagalamukhi Puja is recommended. It's a difficult week-long 'yajna' by 11 priests who chant shlokas 1.5 lakh times.”
Full-time temple priests confirm heightened interest from political parties.
“Big time politicians visit us for Rudraabhishek and Mahasudarshan yajnas, both of which concern restoration of kingdoms, power, wealth, glory and honour,” said Sushil Chandra Shastri, chief priest of Hariharnath temple, visited by home minister Rajnath Singh for a Rudraabhishek to ensure victory, apart from other luminaries.
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