2008 seems destined to go down as one of the most cataclysmic years to rock the world, with perhaps the worst financial crisis in a half-century. Considering that economists seem totally out of their elements and are seeing stars, Little India thought why not turn to those who make their living reading the stars.
GUIDED BY A STAR
Modus Operandi: "Astrology is a science, which is based on the planetary positions at the time of an individual's birth," Uppal explains. "In order to make his calculation, an astrologer requires information like the date, time and the place of an individual's birth, but it is not necessary for the individual to be present in person." He is careful to point out that while an astrologer can predict the future and suggest guidelines on how to counter events that are to take place, "I personally do not believe that there can be any remedies to overcome destiny."
DRAW YOUR SWORD
TV star turned tarot-card-reader, Munisha Khatwani, one of the three hosts of Star News' Teen Deviyaan, and co-author of the recently launched three-part-book that's tied to the series, was drawn to Tarot five years ago when her own life was ridden with problems. "I didn't want to turn to outsiders for help and so I went through a period of soul searching to see how I could resolve my own inner-conflicts as well as all the problems that seemed to come my way," says Khatwani, admitting that during this rough patch she studied the tarot and worked on developing her intuitive powers. "As I started to become more and more attuned to the cosmos, I found that I would get an intuition about the people close to me. On one occasion, I stopped someone from crossing the road just seconds before a speeding car shot suddenly across and veered sharply at the very same spot." Khatwani relates another occasion in which she sensed an underlying illness that someone close to her was suffering and was able to intimate the person in time to prevent the hidden condition from worsening.
Modus Operandi: "One's tarot-reading skills always improve with the amount of time they spend with their cards," explains Khatwani. Depending on the reader's intuitive powers, she says, "One can pick up a vibe about the person and his or her problem, even before the pack has been consulted sometimes."
Tarot usually reveals the path that an individual is currently on, in his or her life's journey, but while Khatwani says the readings may identify upcoming problems or impediments the individual is likely to experience in the future, "sometimes one can take steps to correct these problems, but sometimes, for various reasons, a person just can't."
What does 2009 have in store? "Next year is not going to be a very stable year," she says, "Most of the planets are in retrograde. I don't foresee the situation in stock markets improving till June next year." Like Uppal, Munisha too looks forward to 2010. "That's the year of Jupiter so it should bring success."
FOLLOW YOUR GUARDIAN ANGEL
Samira Amin, crystal therapist and angel-card reader cum counselor, feels that you can draw good luck and positive energies whenever you choose. As long back as she can remember, Amin says she has been driven by a desire to help people, "Even when I was a child, I knew I'd like to be in a profession that helps people somehow." She pursued courses in fields such as, Reiki, Siddhi-Samadhi yoga, Tarot and Astro-psychology, among others. Amin has been churning out predictions and guidance for friends and relatives for almost eight years now, but she only decided to offer her services professionally around six months ago. And with that in mind, Amin opened up a quaint little studio in Gowalia Tank, dubbed, "Ostara" where she not only stocks books, charms, crystals and healing stones for sale, but also has a healing room where she meets and guides anyone in need through a combination of angel-card readings, crystal therapy, meditation and counseling.
Modus Operandi: Citing her belief in guardian angels, Amin explains her belief that, "Angels represent your higher self." While laying emphasis on her faith in a cosmos that connects everyone to each other and to the powers that be, Amin says, "It may be hard for some to understand this, but I believe that each of us chooses the roads we wish to tread on." She shakes her head as she searches for a clearer explanation. "Why we would choose our problems and what we hope to gain out of them, these are things that will be revealed to us at the right time. You may have come across people who admit that all their struggles were worth the effort to get where they've reached, because of how much they've learnt through their problems. This is exactly what they're talking about."
What Amin strives to do at her studio is not to find a "quick-fix" for people's problems, but to, "empower them to find the solutions to their own problems." "Depending on the person and his or her viewpoint and beliefs, I may recommend something simple like a book to read or a certain amount of meditation-time per day."
YOUR LIFE'S ON A LEAF
"Our ancestor received these leaves in Tamil Nadu at Vaitheeswaran Koil," says Mr. V Mani, narrating the tale of how his predecessors were gifted the ancient leaves at the temple of Lord Shiva. "My complete collection is still in South India," Mr. K Murugeshan adds that every 20 days they bring some of these leaves back to their place in Mumbai. "These leaves contain predictions about the lives of 7,200 to 7,500 born on each day of the calendar. This means that out of the millions of births that take place worldwide each day, only 7,200 to 7,500 people can have their leaves read."
How accurate is it? The predictions have been made thousands of years ago by the venerated Sage Vasishta and his disciples and they reveal facts about a person's past, present and future, says Mani. "They also establish the karmic link between your past experiences, your present story and your future. Of these, however, you can only check the accuracy of what's been said about your present, but we find that the predictions about future events and even remedial measures we've employed on the basis of our legacy are absolutely infallible."
Citing the example of a lady named Maria who had sought the family's guidance and whose story was recreated for a TV show on the supernatural, titled, Mano Ya Na Mano (Believe It or Not), Mani leads us through the Christian girl's tale and how her problems were ultimately solved when, "destiny led her to Naadishastra."
Modus Operandi: All the trio requires is an individual's thumbprint to cross-check it against their database of leaves. "If we find a leaf that bears your thumbprint, we can read your entire story on it," Mr. Mani tells us. "Though Sage Vasishta lived during the Vedic period, these leaves are not restricted to the lives of Indian people alone. It's the journey of souls that's chronicled herein and, as such, we often find the leaves of foreigners within our library."
Usually a chant is sufficient to do the trick, but occasionally, the leaves may outline a procedure, which involves visiting certain temples, meditation, charity or even a combination of these things.
ALL THINGS COMBINED
Pathak is a Vastu consultant, Feng Shui expert, face reader and palmist. He is also a faculty manager of American Federation of Astrologers and has written over 300 articles in Gujarati publications on the subject of astrology, many of which have been translated into Hindi. "If you're not sure about your time of birth, I can use the lines on your hands to create your horoscope as well," says Pathak, who once worked as a bank manager at Dena Bank. "I have been reading people's fortunes for over 40 years now, but have only started charging a nominal fee for it fairly recently, to limit the number of people who approach me on a day-to-day basis."
How accurate is it? "Incredibly accurate," Pathak says, proudly. "Astrology is a science, and anyone who practices it properly is sure to make exact predictions, but sadly, only a tiny percentage of those practicing this line are true astrologers these days."
Modus Operandi: "I generally do group sittings, so that I can tackle the problems of not just one person, but of all the people he or she is linked with as well, like his or her family members." He expalins this is important in India, where families dominate individual lives and hence, it is not uncommon for the destinies of family members to be linked and to weight on and impact each other. "In the old days," he says, "I used to read the kundlis of anyone who asked." Now, however, age and popularity have made this difficult.
"I don't believe in making people purchase stones and buy expensive charms," he says, adding that the remedial measures he usually outlines are simple meditation techniques and may sometimes include a prayer chant or even listening to a tape of religious music.
What does 2009 have in store? "The banking centre is going to go through a sick period everywhere which will extend for at least 1 1/2 to 2 years but the Indian economy will suffer less as they will manage to maintain productivity in the industrial sector."
THE REAL NUMBER GAME
But, Harlalkaa says, the reason numerology finally became his chosen line was because, "Eight years ago, I felt really ill and I wanted to heal myself as neither allopathic medicines nor homeopathy really seemed to help me much. I changed my surname by adding an extra "A" and this helped me stabilize, recover my health and rejoin work." At the time, he was employed at the travel agency of Cox and Kings. I finally became a full-time numerologist in 2004.
How accurate is it? "Numerical values affect the stability, the harmony in your life, and this can manifest in different forms from affecting your health to impacting your business," says Harlalkaa. "In my experience, by making a few basic additions or by editing one's name or signature, one can truly improve one's situation."
Modus Operandi: "It's not just the way your name is spelt but sometimes also the letters you employ in your signature that can affect your well being," claims Harlalkaa. Harlalkaa admits that while adding or removing a letter or editing the spelling of one's name may be easy enough to achieve, it is difficult to change or alter a signature; the paperwork alone would prove exhaustive. But, Harlalkaa suggests, examining the signature all the same as he feels that one extra or one less letter can make a radical impact in the course of an individual's life.
What does 2009 have in store? Turmoil, is what the numerologist predicts for the upcoming year. "The troubles that people will encounter will lead them to spirituality," Harlalkaa says, adding that, "People in professions that are related to creativity, religion, spirituality, occult-sciences, and those in the careers that involve oratorical skills like lawyers and teachers will prosper." Harlalkaa also predicts a boom in the construction industry after March 2009, but he warns of lots of dangers, "arising from water." "Floods, storms, overflowing rivers. These will be the norm in the year to come and will cause a lot of damage." Harlalkaa also adds a word of caution for businessmen. "There will be a surge in legal problems that businessmen experience and people would be wise to be very wary of any documents they sign." Finally, Harlalkaa concludes with, "Companies that deal in white products like milk, rice and paper will do well."
LET THE SUN GOD LIGHT YOUR WAY
Chhaya-shastri, or shadow reader Anil Acharya says: "My sons Pratik and Chintan will be the 13th generation of our family to practice this traditional form of fortune-telling that was devised by our ancestors in the age of the Aryans."
Acharya says the lack of clocks in those days meant that the Sun and shadows held special relevance in the lives of people. "Everything a person did was calculated on the basis of his or her shadow in those days - a longer shadow indicated a later time of day for instance and on the basis of that, travelers knew when to stop and find shelter." Explaining that it was this very science that his ancestors furthered to devise a means of not just predicting the present, but also of delving into one's past and peeking into what one's future holds, Acharya says, "We can use this science to recommend the best time for business activities and we can also use it to guide couples on the best time for them to try to conceive a baby."
How accurate is it? On the basis of his clients' records, Anil Acharya claims that this unique method of predicting the future is extremely accurate. He asserts that even the remedial measures prescribed through shadow-reading always yield excellent results.
Modus Operandi: Shadow-reading can only be conducted from 9 am to 12 noon each day, and even that proves difficult in the monsoon season. Consequently, the Acharyas only entertain one client a day. The client must adopt three different postures, and his or her shadow is measured while maintaining the posture. Though the measuring takes just a few minutes, the history, problems and remedies of the person can take hours to work out. The seer then narrates his predictions and the stories that surround the clients' karmic journeys, which clients may record as they see fit.
Once problems have been identified, the Acharyas may recommend various pujas, charms or stones. "Remedies are based on one's karmic actions," Acharya explains, "and often, specific remedies will show up in our readings with an explanation of how it resolves the karmic issue that has caused it."
So there you have it. Seers as muddled and vague in what 2009 holds - Good? Better? Worse? - as the rest of us.