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Monday, 4 June, 2001, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Royal tragedy seen in the stars
King Gyanendra, the late Prince Nirajan and the late King Dipendra
Some had predicted the demise of the royal family
By Susannah Price in Delhi

The explanation for the shooting of senior members of Nepal's royal family remains elusive - but some have pointed to astrological predictions.


Individual politicians lay a lot of store by astrologers

D Raghunandan of the Delhi Science Forum
First reports from Kathmandu suggested that Crown Prince Dipendra had shot dead his parents because they opposed his choice of bride.

They may have been influenced by a prediction that if the Crown Prince married or had children before he was 35, his father King Birendra would die.

Another prophecy apparently states that the king would not live beyond 55 - the age he had reached in December.

And according to legend, a sage predicted that the dynasty would fall after 10 generations - and King Birendra was the 11th generation.

Checking the stars

The strong belief in astrologers and prophecies is widespread in South Asia.

In India, politicians, businessmen and film stars along with ordinary people regularly consult astrologers.

"Individual politicians lay a lot of store by astrologers," says D Raghunandan of the Delhi Science Forum.

"Nearly all political parties, apart from the left - from the current BJP party members to the former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao use them."

The politicians consult their astrologers to choose when to file their nomination papers before an election or where to start campaigning - and a ruling party will make sure it decides on a lucky date for the swearing in of a new government.

Sri Lanka's official functions and speeches are started at auspicious times - which are specified to the minute.

Important figures in India have their own personal astrologers or take advice from a senior family member.

And Hindus will have a birth chart based on the time and date they were born.

Changing destiny

But there are also ways you can try to change your future.

The chief minister of India's southern state of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalitha, added an extra letter "a" to her name after being told it would bring good fortune.

"When a politician wants to be sworn in we check if the position of planets and stars are favourable," says Delhi-based astrologer Mahan Veertulli.

Business men likewise use astrologers to decide when to strike a business deal or sign a contract.

Film stars are also known to be superstitious - one popular soap opera on Indian television put a "k" in front of all the titles of its popular drama to ensure success.

A debate has broken out recently in India over astrology after the education minister said it would be made a university course.

Several academics said it was not previously recognised as a science for university study and the money could be better spent elsewhere.


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02 Sep 99 | South Asia
01 Dec 00 | South Asia
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