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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 October 2005, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Seer defies own death prediction
By Faisal Mohammed Ali
BBC News, Bhopal

Villagers said Punjilal's predictions usually came true - his family was hoping this one might be wrong.

Punjilal, a 75-year-old resident of a village in India's Madhya Pradesh state had said he would die between 1500 and 1700 local time on Thursday.

Journalists, doctors and TV channels joined thousands of curious locals outside the temple he was sitting in.

But the time came and passed and the fortune teller survived. He now says he will live until he is 90.

Hanuman

Thousands of locals had came laden on bullocks, on motorbikes, even in hired cars to get a glimpse of the fortune teller in the dusty village of Sabra, 15km (nine miles) from the main town of the district, Betul.

Some of the [crowd] seemed to have great religious fervour and wanted their future told by the fortune teller
Akil Ahmad, onlooker

Punjilal had stopped talking to people for about a week and for the whole of Thursday sat in a small temple of the monkey god Hanuman chanting religious passages from holy books.

He had told villagers and people close to him about a month ago that he would die on 20 October because his horoscope said so.

His father, also a fortune teller, had apparently died in a similar manner.

Punjilal is known for predictions, particularly about where a well can be dug to find a good level or quality of water.

KB Rawat, a bank employee in Betul who had been camping near Punjilal's house for several days, said: "The predictions made by Punjilal have proved to be true in most cases. I have faith in him. Let's see what happens now."

Journalists converged on the site. One said it was their reality TV.

Some of the crowd had an eye for business - vendors sold sweetmeats, toys and religious books.

Prayers

Thursday started with a local priest offering Punjilal prasad (fruits and sweets that had earlier been offered to gods) and said this would save him from death.

My grandfather, Kishanlal, also predicted his death and died at the said hour in the year 1975
Anirudh, Punjilal's son

His prediction proved truer than Punjilal's, although the seer himself had told people there was a 25% chance he would not die.

Punjilal, who has four daughters and one son, is helping his grandson learn the profession.

His son, Anirudh, said he was happy his father was alive.

"My grandfather, Kishanlal, also predicted his death and died at the said hour in the year 1975. So we were worried. My grandfather passed all the art of fortune telling to my father."

Punjilal's wife, Jayawanti Bai, says she had prayed for her husband to live longer.

Oddly, Thursday happened to be Karva Chauth, when wives fast and pray for their husband's long life.

Two local doctors kept a constant check and were happy to report his vital organs kept working normally and his pulse was good.

After his escape, Punjilal was taken to the Balajipuram temple, 23km from his village, to offer prayers.

He says he will live till he is 90.


SEE ALSO:
Weddings need heavenly help
01 Aug 03 |  South Asia
Hindus mourn 'monkey god'
01 Sep 02 |  South Asia
Royal tragedy seen in the stars
04 Jun 01 |  South Asia
India survives 'doomsday'
09 May 99 |  South Asia
Soothsayers offer heavenly help
02 Sep 99 |  South Asia


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