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Last Updated: Friday, 1 August, 2003, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
Weddings need heavenly help
By Jonathan Beale
BBC correspondent in Delhi

Astrology in India is much more than a matter of consulting your horoscope in the daily paper.

Pandit Ajai Bhambi
If we want to take the help of planets and if we want the marriage to last then this is the time when one should avoid
Pandit Ajai Bhambi
Hindu families often have their own personal star-gazer to advise them throughout their lives.

And the advice they all seem to be giving is that no one should get married for the next few months.

The pronouncement is creating havoc with the country's wedding entertainment industry.

For life's big decisions many Hindus consult their personal astrologer.

And in India there's no bigger decision than getting married.

Planetary complications

In a small office in a Delhi apartment block a mother and father ask Pandit Ajai Bhambi when is the best time for their daughter to get married.

According to astrologers, Jupiter's entry into the sign of Leo and the disappearance of Venus from the naked eye, along with other planetary complications, makes this a bad time to get married.

His advice is in line with what every astrologer seems to be saying - "Call the whole thing off" - at least till November:

Swagat Band
The Swagat band can only practice their routine
"If we want to take the help of planets and if we want the marriage to last then this is the time when one should avoid," says Pandit Bhambi.

"There are good times and there are bad times. In India marriages last because heaven is taken into account."

One of Delhi's best-known wedding combos, the Swagat band, is still playing - but their bookings have taken a dive.

Venues are left empty.

In fact, the whole wedding entertainment business is in a state of limbo.

In an alleyway, while they wait for customers, all that bandmaster Chain Singh can get his musicians to do is polish and practice their instruments.

"Business is very slow - no work is being done because until November and December no work is possible," says Mr Singh.

"We're just sitting around rehearsing. Until there's a wedding how is work possible?"

Defying the stars

Even the Hindu priests are finding their lives ruled by the stars and they are having to be more patient than usual.

Kalpana and Mohit Aron
Kalpana and Mohit defied the stars
An elaborate wedding ceremony at a Delhi hotel is one of the rare celebrations of marriage for months to come.

And it is not going to get much better.

Astrologers are saying there may only be 20 good days to get married between November and next May.

But the stars are not ruling everyone's life.

Mohit, a computer programmer who has come all the way from California to marry Kalpana, is pressing ahead and tying the knot.

He is happy wearing traditional costume but not being ruled by the astrologers' advice.

"There are so many marriages that happen throughout the world and most of them are successful, so I'm not worried," he says.

"If it's convenient we try to follow it, but if it's not then I'm not going to bend and follow it."

So while for most Hindus astrology remains a science that cannot be defied, there will always be the few like Mohit and Kalpana for whom love know no bounds.

Stars of India under spotlight
01 Dec 00  |  South Asia
Soothsayers offer heavenly help
02 Sep 99  |  South Asia
Are scientists prejudiced against astrology?
24 Jun 98  |  Science/Nature

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