In a world where uncertainty rules and anxiety spares none, the art of predicting the future still has its place.
There are numerous ways to predict the future. Among them is parrot astrology. This has green parakeets picking up tarot cards that are read by practitioners to predict the future.Remember Mani the parrot who became an international celebrity when he picked the winners during the 2010 FIFA World Cup?
The practice of parrot astrology originated in India. In Malaysia, many of these astrologers are found on the streets of Little India in Klang and Brickfields.
We got to meet a parrot astrologer in Little India, Brickfields, who wanted us to address her as Durga.
The eldest of nine siblings, Durga is now in her mid-40s and has been a parrot astrologer for the past 30 years.
“My parents did not object to my becoming a parrot astrologer. Even after my marriage, my husband allowed me to continue my practice. Every Saturday, I wake up at dawn and travel all the way from Seremban to Brickfields with my parakeets. On other days, I am like any other housewife.“
She sees about 10 clients and earns around RM50 per day.
According to Durga, you need to get a licence to get into the business of fortune telling. But most important is the need for well-trained parakeets.
Durga has six parrots, but she only brings two with her each Saturday. When asked why she chose parrots, she said it was the favourite bird of a Hindu goddess and that these birds are also very intelligent.
“These birds are like my children who need a great amount of care and patience. They are also vegetarians, like me, and sometimes they eat fried rice or even fried mee!“
The parrots are usually in a cage. Once a customer arrives, the session begins with Durga asking the customer for his or her name. After this, she opens the cage and requests the parrot to select a suitable card out of a pack of 27 for the customer. The parrot daintily walks out of its cage, pulls a card out of the stack with its beak and retreats to its shelter. The astrologer then turns the card over and reveals the picture and message to the customer. She then refers to another book for more details based on the card. Most of the time, these cards bear optimistic messages.
Most of her clients come from a range of races and religions, so Durga makes sure her fortune cards depict Hindu deities, Jesus Christ and so on. They usually ask her to predict the prospects of their marriage, wealth or the future in general. Her clients include people from both the older and younger generations. She said there are still many who believe in fortune telling even in this modern era.
“People are not shy to say that they are still superstitious sometimes. They seek me when they face problems and are confused about how to deal with them. Parents even bring their newborns to me to predict their babies’ fortune.
“Once I correctly predicted a young lady’s future by telling her she was going to get married that particular month. The young lady excitedly told me she was getting married that same week.“
We asked if any of her clients had asked for their money back for predictions that had not come true. Durga said, “No one has wanted their money back. They usually pay me more than I ask for because the majority of my clients are fully satisfied with my readings.” However, she did say that there are fake parrot astrologers in our country who give inaccurate predictions. The unproven credibility of such predictions and the difficulty in identifying genuine practitioners keep most people from consulting them these days. As astrologers become tech savvy with their computers and dedicated software, those who practice parrot astrology on the streets are reduced to surviving on a pittance.
But that does not deter Durga with her one-day-a-week job. Her advice to youngsters who have trouble deciding on a career pathway is : “Put your heart and soul into whatever you pursue in life. Believe in yourself... that you are the best and never give up on achieving your dreams. Also, never think ill of your job. The main thing is to make your family proud and aim for the sky since it’s limitless.“
That is what Durga did for herself — well, probably with the help of the parakeets who showed her the right cards.