The auspicious Year of the Water Dragon may have begun this week, but some aren’t quite feeling lucky enough. Civic elections in India are all tied up, and according to Times of India, fortune tellers have reported an increase in visits from political hopefuls as a result. Eager for any chance to brighten their prospects, aspiring candidates are turning to superstition en masse.
Astrologer Manish Potdar claims clients have paid between 20,000 to 25,000 rupees (€308 - €385) for good quality stones, such as a bhagya ratna (“stone of fortune”). Upon his recommendation, political hopefuls have also been visiting holy sites like Shani Shignapur to please Shani, the celestial being in Hindu astrology that delivers judgment.
Though this mythicism may not be surprising among political newcomers, it is actually something of a tradition among elected officials in India, and in fact, elsewhere around the globe. Since taking the top seat, Pakistan’s president Asif Ali Zardari has been known to sacrifice black goats to ward off evil spirits. Distributing the meat among the poor, he links the act to the Muslim practice of Sadaqah (“voluntary charity”), practiced to gain Allah’s blessings and protection from misfortune.
Barack Obama and his team too practiced a number of rituals during his presidential campaign, including carrying charms from voters like a lucky poker chip, a Madonna and child pendant, as well as a mini golden Monkey King. When the future is unknown and stakes are high, everyone could use some extra luck some time—even world leaders, it appears.
Polls in India are open until February 16. May the best man win.
Image by Romana Klee