Saturday, December 6, 2008


At times, I marvel at my naïveté. I read the morning papers carefully but find nothing very amusing in the news items. But no sooner the same item is reproduced in the Funny Old World column of the Private Eye magazine, coming out of London, I see its funny side. This one was on the prevalence of belief in numerology in India. Numerology is one of those hocus pocus superstitions like astrology, Vastu, Feng Shui, gemology and many others, which have many takers even among the highly educated. They believe that if you change the number of your house, or add an extra letter or two to your name, your fortunes will take an upward swing. I have two names in mind: Jayalalitha added an extra ‘a’ to her name to become Jayalalithaa; so did Shobha De, to become Shobhaa. There is no evidence of their benefiting by the additional a’s. Perhaps it improved their digestion and reduced gas in their bellies; only they can tell. But this news item, which appeared in The Hindustan Times on September 18 this year, is about belief in numerology in Bollywood, which is singularly asinine in its belief in the occult. It reads:

‘“It’s true there is no scientific proof whatsoever that numerology actually works”, film producer Vipul Amrutlal Shah admitted to reporters at a studio in Mumbai. “But it is a vital science here in Bollywood. Every studio now-a-days employs numerologists to add, subtract, or rearrange the letters in film titles, and in the names of actors, so that they are astrologically sound, because this is a high-risk business with millions of dollars at stake. That’s why I support plans for Bollywood to open an official school of numerology to train practitioners, just as we train our directors, actors and film-makers.”.......

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Chronological order