KATHMANDU, July 4: Our daily newspapers carry our zodiac’s readings, predicting that we should meet up with friends in the evening, let no one ride roughshod over us during the day, etc, etc. We know about our mothers visiting either this “Baje” or that one, with our “cheena,” or birth charts, trying to figure out a way of calming our “Shani Graha.” We may also have friends interested in palmistry. In short, we aren’t without knowledge or experience of astrology and its various sidekicks. It’s not to deny that there’s truth in it. But these days, the major generalization of predictions and “guesses” leave us slightly skeptic, or have us entirely raise our eyebrows.
The Rajbanshi family in Chabahil has had a trusted family of pundits for three generations now. Sami Rajbanshi, 20, hostel in charge of Graded English Medium School, says, “We’ve been seeking the help and advice of the same family of pundits since my grandfather’s time. It’s because of their accuracy that we’ve continued consulting them for everything. Our cheena-s were also drawn by our family pundit. Whenever we have pujas or any religious rites, we call him up to conduct them.”
However, photojournalist Shankar Byanjankar, 26, holds no belief in astrology. He says, “Last year, in November, I had to visit City Centre Mall for some work. I was with a friend, and since we had some time to spare, we decided to go over to the jyotish who was sitting in a corner on the third floor. I had never been to any astrologer or a palmist before and I don’t believe in such things.”
Laughing, he adds, “I’m already married and a father of a daughter. But when I asked him when I would get married, he told me it would be soon and that I would have a son. For Rs 110, it just confirmed my belief that these things are fakes.”
Perhaps, in this competitive world, our pundits and Jyotish Bajes also think it worth their while to venture out from their mystical world and be able to read not only between the lines but also those seemingly weird lines on our palms. From private readings at their own houses, they have moved on to visit their clients, called “jajman,” for house pujas and also have their own offices for those many in pursuit of slaying their inner demons.
Jyotish Chakra Subedi, 53, has been involved in astrology for the past 30 years. Originally from Gaighat in Udaypur, he studied astrology at the Veda Vedanga Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya in Benaras. Also simply known as “Guruji,” he worked in Everest Casino in New Baneshwor for 15 years (1996-2011) as an astrology adviser. He also worked for the Nepali edition of VOW magazine where he wrote horoscopes each month. Currently, Guruji is fully involved in his own office, the Rajyog Jyotish Anusandhan Kendra at Thaiti (Tha Hiti) Chowk.
He says, “I work all seven days a week. I’m either in my office, or when I’m called to conduct pujas, I visit some homes. I practice palmistry, make cheenas, and people also come to consult their own cheenas. When I conduct pujas, it’s mostly for “Graha Shanti.” My office is open from 8 am to 5 pm, and appointments are most welcome.”
Another example of one with little faith in pundits and “Jyotish Bajes” is Saajan Gurung. Saajan, 23, lives in Thamel and is a recent graduate of Diploma in Fashion Design.
He recalls, “My cousin sister and I used to go for early morning jogs. One day, she took me to a place in Rani Pokhari. She’s a believer in these things. So I went along with her. We had a friend along that day with us. We had to buy tickets for Rs 20 each and we had to queue up along with 20 other visitors. When our turn finally came, the Baje took my hand in his but looked at my forehead and started asking me questions and giving predictions. Well, he did have the number of my siblings correct but I think I told him the answer myself when he was questioning me. My sister was quite satisfied with the Baje but I wasn’t. However, I did have a tiny moment of shock when the Baje managed to give me the initials of the girl who had a crush on me.”
He further says, “I know that people start queuing up at the place since 5 o’clock in the morning. There’s a particular day when he closes shop, but then he visits peoples’ houses on request that day.”
Be a skeptic, a believer, or consider it nothing more than hogwash, but you can’t escape astrology. The horoscopes, the Bahun Bajes with their smart parrots on the sidewalks of busy streets, the locally famous Jyotishis, like the one in Kapan, who is simply known as “Kapanko Baje,” it’s all a part of our lives and our lifestyle, in one way or another.
Therefore, the most important question comes down to this: Should we just believe in all the good parts and ignore the rest of the predictions?
Ask the greenest parrot on the Tundikhel