India's astrologers warn of impending disaster
For India’s astrologers, even at 69,4-million kilometers away, Mars is too close for comfort.
The red planet, named after the Roman god of war, will be at its closest to Earth since 2003 on Saturday and won’t come as near for another decade, prompting some astrologers to predict trouble, destruction and plain old bad luck.
“Mars influences Earth in a big way and these days it is very close. This sort of period is adverse for humanity as a whole. Various places on Earth will see earthquakes, tornados, fires and volcanic eruptions,” said Ashok Kumar Joshi, an Indian astrologer.
Astrology has been practiced in India for thousands of years as part of a widely held belief system that the future can be divined from planets’ movements in relation to the stars.
The previous Hindu nationalist-led government went so far as to push for it as an area of scientific study at the university level, despite most scientists dismissing astrological predictions as pure superstition.
But both astronomers and astrologers agree that Mars is coming close and is sitting in one zodiac house, a celestial section defined by star patterns as seen from Earth, for six months instead of the usual 45 days.
Astrologers say this phenomenon explains why Earth has been hit recently by a series of hurricanes and earthquakes.
“Mars, which is known to be destructive, is sitting on Aries.
Two months are gone and we have four more to go. Natural disasters related to fire, earth, air and water might affect people the world over,” leading Indian astrologer Niraj Mancchanda said on his website.
Astrologer Joshi said the 7,6-magnitude earthquake that hit northwestern Pakistan and parts of Indian-administered Kashmir on October 8, was a direct result of a rare combination of killer planetary forces and numerology.
“The worst is not yet over and bigger earthquakes could follow,” he said, adding hurricanes Katrina and Wilma were also directly related to the planetary alignment.
In the United States last week, CNN journalist Wolf Blitzer raised eyebrows when he asked evangelical Christian minister Jerry Falwell if recent natural disasters meant the biblical end of days was on the way. Falwell said he wasn’t qualified to forecast the end of the world.
The sceptics have also been out in force.
India’s Science and Rationalists Association said astrologer predictions are often vague and should not be taken seriously.
“There is no way of predicting disasters like earthquakes, except scientifically by geologists. Otherwise, many, many lives could be saved,” said Prabir Ghosh, general secretary of the association.
However, astrologers say the movement of planets have provided clues for millennia about impending events and that is why their trade has survived, with millions of people around the world consulting the seers before embarking on important ventures.
The astrologers say they can also predict prosperity in the movement of planets and say that some people will gain by the current closeness of Mars.
“If Mars is strong in an individual’s horoscope, then he will gain land, assets and wealth,” said Ganesan Yogananthem, a well-known Indian astrologer. “But those whose planetary sign is weak, could face property disputes or other setbacks.”
And Joshi said that the rest of the world could invoke nature’s protection by holding special prayer sessions.
“Communities should hold special prayers as they create positive vibes in the atmosphere. It will change the energy equilibrium and it will become favourable with the sound of mantras.” - AFP