The God of all visas

The Wall Street Journal is amused. For it turns out that we have a Visa God in India. Actually, He is none other than Balaji, but this particular Balaji specializes in granting visas. You can read the entire article here, but since the WSJ requires a paid subscription, I shall copy part of the article below:

Lately, the deity has grown particularly popular at the once-quiet Chilkur Balaji temple here, where he goes by a new nickname: the Visa God. The temple draws 100,000 visitors a week, many of whom come to pray to Lord Balaji for visas to travel or move to the U.S. and other Western countries.

Mohanty Dolagobinda is one of the Visa God’s believers. Three years ago, a U.S. consulting company applied for a visa on his behalf. It was rejected. When the company tried again the following year, Mr. Dolagobinda’s friends told him to visit the Chilkur Balaji temple ahead of his interview at the U.S. consulate. Weeks later, he sailed through the interview. “I’ve never heard of anyone who’s gone to the temple whose visa got rejected,” says Mr. Dolagobinda.

In the late 1990s, this small temple on the outskirts of Hyderabad — the capital of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh — drew just two or three visitors a week.

C.S. Gopala Krishna, the 63-year-old head priest of the Chilkur Balaji Temple, wanted more people to come. So he gave Lord Balaji a new identity. “I named him the Visa God,” he says. Now, Mr. Gopala Krishna’s temple is a hot spot. Billboards on the dirt road to the temple advertise English-language schools and visa advisers. Next to the parking lot, vendors hawk souvenirs and fruit.”

The WSJ is amused, but I am not so surprised. We Hindus are very considerate people, we do not believe in overburdening our Gods. So we have Ganesha, the remover-of-obstacles, Saraswati for education, Lakshmi for wealth and so on. Some of these Gods (and Goddesses) do have sub-categories. For instance, Dhaanya Lakshmi specializes in grain production, while Santhaana Lakshmi specializes in granting children.  Both symbolize different forms of “wealth” (inasmuch as children are considered a source of wealth) and are therefore different forms of Lakshmi. We have hierarchies and categories and sub-categories, it’s all very well organized.

But then, as we go through life, we come up with really specific issues. Let’s say you wake up from a nightmare. What do you do? Well, you pray to Vishnu. Don’t believe me? Well then, next time you hear someone chanting the Vishnu Sahasranamam (the 1000 names of Vishnu) listen carefully – one of the names you will hear is “Dush-swapna-naasana” which means “destroyer of bad dreams”. So yes, banishing bad dreams is one of Vishnu’s responsibilities.

We humans need to learn about Specialization, Differentiation, Niche Marketing and all the other jargon in expensive MBA courses. Our Omniscient Gods have of course perfected all this stuff a long time ago.

So am I surprised that one of our Gods has decided to specialize in granting visas? Not really. Getting visas has become such a hassle these days that it makes eminent sense to have a special God of All Visas. I am glad one of our Gods has spotted this niche opportunity and decided to make it His responsibility.

But then, we have always had a very close relationship with our Gods. We do not fear our Gods, we love them, we treat them with affection and friendship. Our Gods take all forms from little kids to brothers to mothers. In effect, our Gods are like special family members.They participate in every major event of our lives – they attend our engagements and weddings, they even inspect our new cars and motorbikes before we ride them.

We bargain with our Gods, we even cut deals with them and bribe them “Please help me pass the GRE”, we say, “ and I will break 108 coconuts/ shave my head/ do XYZ pooja/ feed the poor”).

Would you go to the Ministry of Transportation to get a Driving License? No. You go to the RTO/DMV. So, isn’t it obvious that you would need specialized Gods for everyday life? I need a God to specialize in visas, just as I needed a specialized God to help me with my grades, another specialized God to help me stay healthy, and a third specialized God to ensure a successful career.  We have a God for All Things, and other Gods for Every Little Thing.

I only wonder, is there a God (or Goddess) of All Blogs?  A Blog Balaji? Or perhaps, a Blogyalakshmi?

Technorati Tags: , , ,visa,India, life, humor

17 thoughts on “The God of all visas

  1. Here are a few more,

    Blogyashree, Blogyavathi, Blogeswari, Blogyavishnu, Blogyaram, Blogyamathi, Blogyapriya, for a start more to follow

  2. my favorite was one where there is a god and a sub-temple designated only for colds – there are three deities.I used to always wonder whether each had specific duties ( one for a sneeze, one for a running nose and one for throat?)

    Visa God is good as well. Are there different incantations for different types of visa one wonders.

  3. I did a post on this once…and you can’t imagine the quantum of traffic I get from google..people who search for this chilkur balaji!!

    Chennai also has this CA Anjaneyar 🙂 (sheepishly..I went there before taking my exam wink wink!)

  4. This is unbelieveable! great post.
    But I would have imagined VISAlakshi to be the goddess of Visas. When did Balaji begin to interfere in her portfolio?
    I am going to pray to Blogeswar/ Blogambika now for helping come up with a prize winning post. I need their grace.

  5. I hear Harvard is getting certain media-friendly Hindu Gods to do guest lectures for its MBA students. The president of the prestigious school explained that this alone could save the sagging economy from imminent doom, citing the great delegating ability of the Gods and the believers as justification for this unorthodox step.

    PS: May Blogyalakshmi’s blessings bring you more comments with each passing day!

  6. It has been years and years since I prayed for the fulfilment of personal wishes. When I was ten, in 1947, I remember praying that a weak student whom I knew would pass his exams. Since I changed schools at the end of the year I never found out if he did pass.
    If one must pray I think it would be better to pray for help in developing or deepening the qualities which would enable one to realize the objective in view: in this case a visa.
    On a broader front I hope the day is not far off when the opportunities available in India are such that the quest for a visa is hardly what it is today. I would heartily join in such a collective prayer. The effectiveness of prayer requires human initiative.

  7. I like Blognath, or for south India, Bloganathan. 😉

    Blognath sounds like a creature out of HP Lovecraft. 😮

    When I had a visa problem a few years ago, I was in Maharashtra so I went to Shirdi. 🙂 (true story)

  8. @Mangojuice: I like Blogyashree…sounds like a once-famous actress..

    @BPSK: Blognath is good. I guess one should choose the really long-winded blogs for the Thulabharam. Or print them on cardboard..

    @A Cynic In Wonderland: Why a cold God? A pneumonia God, I can understand.

    You will need different incantations depending on the “archana” – mantras will be like “Om H1B visa deheem”, “Saha kutumbanam Green card sheegra deheem” and so on..

    @ujj: Ah, one more opportunity springs up 🙂

    @gooddaysunshine: CA Anjenayar sounds good 🙂 With so many visa-seeking readers, maybe you should tie-up with VFS – think of the customers you can bring them 🙂

    @usha: VISAlakshi is brilliant 🙂 I loved it..

    @dipali: yes, aren’t we? 🙂

    @ArSENik: On the other hand, Harvard MBA students think they are Gods themselves 🙂 (went to rival Ivy so what else do you expect me to say 😛 )

    Thanks for Blogyalakshmi’s blessings 🙂

    @Candadai Tirumalai: I could not agree with you more. Let’s hope future generations never have to be in the position of agonizing over visas or green cards.

    @sirensongs: Not HP Lovecraft – not so horrible, surely?
    You visited Shirdi ? Then your Indianization is near complete 🙂

    Bloganathan sounds good..a.k.a. Blog A. Nathan (the US version) 😛

  9. Hmm… BlogNath sounds good… and what about a BlogNath Jayanti?

    I guess all those phoreners when they come to visit the great shrine, I wonder what they will say

    “May the blessings of Blog-Not perennially fall on our blogs,
    May his grace adorn our traffics, and his mercy on our RSS subscribers”

  10. Had been thinking that the pantheon of Hindu gods’ had not increased of late. Given the increase in population and tasks and the Hindu mythics’ proclivity to delegate, I had been thinking of creating a post on neo-Gods but now that I know that delegation is alive and kicking I guess I’ll make my additions here.

    I think there’s a Google Devta who aids web searches. He sits somewhere between the Akshaic records and web page indexes. Is actually a mutation of Ganesha and sits on a spider instead of a mouse. One can offer salutations to it by ceremoniously chanting “OM GOOGLAYEH NAMAH” thrice before hitting the “I’m feeling lucky” button.
    As Blog Pundits are already there, it’s fitting that they too be given a god. Their god I feel is aRSSwati. Again a mutation of Saraswati, she’s the goddess of self expression and venting, and has 100 heads for multiple feeds. She sits atop a pygmy who yields a spade and is forever digging it!

    Saraswati has yet another mutated sister SRSwT, the goddess of sms and text messages. She resides in all abbreviations and its hoped to god that the receiver of the message understands what the abbreviated message was in the first place thanks to her blessings!

    The third is Connection Baba, who is standing on one leg and has his hands joined in the connections mudra. His self effacing service for the connectivity of Humankind has made him a Baba, but once he leaves this world will soon be declared an avatar and will be prayed upon as such!
    More to follow…

  11. i dont find it surprising ,ppl would do anything (if they had a chance) would do anything to get out of india ,opportunties are just not there or else u would spend ur entire life crossing from middle class to upper class etc etc
    my visa got rejected last yr nd i no how it feels ,hnsly i would do same thing for h1b ,the kind of personal or professional growth opps which exists there simply cant exist in india for next century also

    i also read a sillu article in business week based on some stupid research which says indians leaving usa ,those are ppl with infintie money in their accounts no idiiot would leave usa if he had a real chance

    lets hope this yr i get my visa and can also write such articles after 3-4 yrs laughing at silliness of us

    • I can understand your disappointment at your visa application being rejected.

      But on your point that no Indian living in the US would want to return to India, well, I personally know a few who have returned, and they are not all people who have made their money here, though some certainly are.

      I am sure there are enough opportunities in India too for saving money/ improving one’s finances. Like in everything else, the grass is always greener on the other side.

      Good luck with your visa process next time!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s