Page last updated at 09:32 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 10:32 UK

India monkey god idol for Obama

Mr Bhama with the idol
Mr Bhama says he is ardent supporter of Mr Obama

A group of Indians are planning to present a statue of the revered Indian monkey God, Hanuman, to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

The group decided to order the idol after they read a magazine report saying that Mr Obama carried a good luck 'monkey king' charm.

They say that a Barack Obama victory would be good for India.

Hindus revere monkeys which they believe are descendents of the monkey God Hanuman.

The two-foot tall, 15kg gold-polished, brass idol has been made as a present for Mr Obama because "he will be good for India if he becomes the next president," according to Brij Mohan Bhama, leader of the group.

Mr Bhama belongs to the ruling Congress party and also runs a textile mill in the western city of Mumbai.

'Monkey charm'

"We have heard that he carries a small monkey charm in his pocket. So he is a devotee of Hanuman. That's why we want to present him with this idol," he said.

Mr Bhama and his friends have also invited Carolyn Sauvage-Mar, chairwoman of the group, Democrats Abroad-India, to a meeting they are holding on Tuesday to pray for Mr Obama's success.

The Delhi-based group registers voters, sponsors events and occasionally hosts Democratic Party leaders visiting India.

Obama stands for change. We are hoping that he will bring about change so that oil and food prices come down
Brij Mohan Bhama

Mr Bhama is hoping that Ms Sauvage-Mar will pick up the idol and arrange it to be delivered to Mr Obama.

"They have invited me for the prayer. I am happy to go to bring best wishes to Obama," she said.

She said she would talk with the organisers and find out whether she would be able to help in shipping the idol to Mr Obama.

Ms Sauvage-Mar said the people organising the prayer meeting for the presidential candidate had possibly read a Time magazine article which mentioned that Mr Obama carried a "monkey king good luck charm".

"Senator Obama has a good luck charm. We don't know whether it is of Hanuman. But the people here think it is Hanuman," she said.

Mr Bhama says he is an ardent supporter of Mr Obama - even his email identification is bhamaforobama.

"Obama stands for change. We are hoping that he will bring about change so that oil and food prices come down," he said.

"India will progress if he comes to power."

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