In distress, people are known to turn to God. Former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad is no exception. However, despite visiting temples and astrologers, he failed to get a reprieve he had hoped for on Thursday.
A priest at Hariharnath Temple in Sonepur recalls how Lalu wept bitterly after being ousted from power in 2005. “Lalu went to the temple’s sanctum sanctorum and wept bitterly with his hands on the Shivlinga. He was saying over and over again ‘Baba maaf kar do, hum bhul gaye they aapko (Lord forgive me, I had forgotten you)’. Otherwise a regular visitor to the temple, Lalu had not come to the temple after becoming the chief minister,” the priest said on the condition of anonymity.
Ever since then, Lalu has been on a temple renovation spree. He campaigned for the temple’s renovation and convinced people to donate liberally. “People from India’s metros and even south India donated over Rs. 80 lakh for renovation of the temple after Prasad spoke to them,” said Hariharnath’s secretary Vijay Kumar. "Such a man would never be down for long.”
Apart from Hariharnath, Prasad was instrumental in getting another famous temple at Thawe in Gopalganj district renovated. The temple is a Shaktipeeth which he visits regularly with his family members.
To propitiate angry gods before Monday when he was convicted, Prasad has done rudrabhishek and maha rudrabhishek in the past couple of months. Over 108 litres of milk, Gangajal and coconut water were used in one such ceremony.
Lalu has also professed immense faith in astrologers, palmists and occultists, ever since he got caught in the multi-crore fodder scam in 1996.
Of late, Lalu has been seen wearing a number of amulets, a locket of goddess Durga and tying coloured threads on his right wrist. Insiders claim, they were all prescribed by astrologers he had consulted to negate the evil star effect and avert the jail sentence.
The stones and astro solutions, surely, has not worked as desired by Lalu, who is said to have been asked to read the Gita and Hanuman Chalisa to get an early relief.
Numerous babas with names such as Satellite Baba and Pagla Baba have rubbed shoulders with Lalu -- each giving him 'life saving' tips for the future.
Old timers recall Lalu's association with ‘Satellite Baba' alias R Singh, who had predicted Lalu’s return to power in 1995. It did happen the way he predicted, but the astrologer soon fell from grace of the RJD chief.
Another interesting facet of Lalu’s faith in supernatural powers and fate has been his claims about getting premonitions about the future -- often a butt of joke in political circles.
After he was jailed for the first time in 1997, Lalu announced he had a dream where Lord Shiva instructed him to turn vegetarian to get off his troubles. He actually shunned his favourite dishes, like fish and mutton for decades before turning non-vegetarian only a few years back.
Lalu, who has come a long way from being a peon in veterinary college in the 70s, has time and again said it was due to the blessings of “Maa Jagdamba (another name of Goddess Durga)”. He had said recently, “Maa will not do anything wrong.”