“There is superstition in avoiding superstition,” Francis Bacon once said. This should be of comfort to most of us Indians who tend to have stars in our eyes on the subject. Yes, as a nation we are the foremost crystal ball gazers in the world, embarking on nary a task without a quick natter with the local soothsayer, and in some cases with the Almighty himself. But, even by our penchant for the preternatural, the recent antics of Bollywood’s liquid-limbed hero Govinda takes the cake, or shall we say cassoulet. Feeling low while shooting in Mauritius, the actor got on the blower with his astrologer in Mumbai. The advice that came might have you clucking in astonishment. Shoot with a hen for a day, said his personal Gypsy Rose. So the portly actor proceeded to do that. Now the poor farmyard creature, a novice to the arc lights, gave such a sterling performance that it gave up the ghost halfway. Did that deter our lad from Malad? No, he proceeded dauntless with the now departed hen in tow.
But, our point, is bizarre though this fowl incident may be, Govinda is not alone in this astro addiction. Our politicos are famous for scanning the heavens before undertaking any task of import. If the stars do not foretell, well, policy matters can wait. We have had prime ministers, no less, who would not move a muscle without checking their kundalinis with Godmen. Our esteemed president made a bit of splash when she spoke of communing with a dead person through a living one. Bejewelled rings, havans, pujas yes, even entering into matrimony with trees, the stars are adventurous if nothing else.
Let’s face it, while we may snigger at Govinda, most of us chicken out when it comes being rational. How many of us will soldier straight on if a black cat crosses our path? When Ganesh idols purportedly began drinking milk, many a litre literally went down the drain as the faithful plied the rotund God with the stuff. And did the hordes not rush to imbibe fetid marsh water in Mumbai believing that saltwater had turned sweet by a miracle? Items of clothing are a favourite marker of the seriously superstitious. The great Duke Ellington never wore brown and Tiger Woods wears red to every important tournament. Closer home, N.T. Rama Rao would slip into a sari come bedtime thus befuddling malefic forces as to his gender. The very concept of the lucky mascot also has its roots in superstition. Corporate tycoons are no different. If it is Tuesday, or is it Wednesday, chances are that the big deal will not be inked. Perhaps it is time that editorial writers like us also chose auspicious days on which to put finger to keyboard. But then we don’t want to invite that pink slip just yet.