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Hocus Pocus:
Sikh-Canadian Throws $100,000 Challenge to Charlatans




Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

A group of Sikh-Canadian rationalists are challenging astrologers to prove their ability to make predictions, for a $100,000 grand prize.

Avtar Singh Gill, a Sikh-Canadian resident of Surrey, B.C., said he is tired of watching self-proclaimed swamis, gurus and astrologers rip off superstitious South Asian clientele.

"These guys don't tell the truth. It's all guesswork and rubbish," Avtar Singh, a semi-retired taxi driver, said in Punjabi. "And I feel that in North America, people are even more superstitious than back home, so we want to educate them."

Avtar finds it astonishing how popular these astrologers are within the Indian community.

"When they come on the local TV channels, you can't even get through because the phone lines are so busy," he said. "And they'll say, give me $1,500 and I will make your court sentence go away, you'll have a male child or your visa will come through."

His group, the Tarksheel Cultural Society, which promotes rational and scientific thinking, is hosting a challenge competition Monday (August 2, 2010) at noon at the Grand Taj Banquet Hall in Surrey.

Astrologers, ghost busters, black-magic practitioners - whatever their specialty - are all invited to answer 10 questions based on a person's janam kundli, or astrological birth chart.

If they get all 10 questions right, the Tarksheel Cultural Society will give them $100,000, raised from donations from 40 members.

"And if they get all the questions right, we'll dissolve our group," he vowed.

Of course, he's confident that it won't happen.

To keep people away who might participate just for the kick of it, every contestant has to enter a $1,000 security deposit.

Avtar Singh isn't sure if anyone will accept the challenge and has not received any RSVPs, but he has placed advertisements in the local Punjabi newspapers and on radio stations, such as Red FM and Sher-e-Punjab.

"The banquet hall can hold 300, so if none of [the charlatans] come, we will educate the public, that where there is logic, there is no place for these astrologers."

He cites his own example of a visit to an Indian astrologer, who failed to mention that his future meant living in Canada.

"But nowadays, every astrologer will say you are going abroad, because that is the craze in India," he said.


[Courtesy: Vancouver Sun]

August 2, 2010


Conversation about this article

1: Irvinder Singh Babra (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), August 02, 2010, 8:32 AM.

Job well done, Veero. You must report them to the Canadian Advertising Regulatory Bodies also, so that they can take immediate action against the misleading ads appearing in the Canadian media. Because their claims are false, because their merchandise is false and disturbing and because they, the sellers/ vendors are doing a great injustice here. They must be stopped, and the public enlightened. As a result of their fraud, many homes are wrecked, people have been driven to bankruptcy and families becoming dysfunctional because of the vices and evils committed right under our noses. All we Sikhs need is Chardi Kalaa, not these charlatans!

2: Rajinder Singh (Sacramento, California, U.S.A.), August 02, 2010, 5:33 PM.

Irvinder, these individuals subvert any sort of regulatory action because in their disclaimers/ small print, they state that their services are for "entertainment purposes only."

3: Harpreet (Texas, U.S.A.), August 02, 2010, 7:25 PM.

Punjabi women are particuarly attracted to these Hindu traditions. It's sickening to see even Sikh women fall prey to them even on channels like JusPunjabi, etc.

4: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), August 03, 2010, 5:27 AM.

Looks like there is no dearth of gullible people anywhere, waiting - nay, begging - to be conned. Most of the scoundrels come fully attired in whites, flowing white beards, eyes half closed in prayer and piety. One such pair arrived in the early morning at our door and rang the door bell. I let them in thinking they were lost and looking for someone's address. They came and parked themselves with eyes closed for a couple of minutes and slowly opened the eyes with 'Satnam Waheguru'. I said "Aa-o gurmukho, what can I do for you?" "We are here to collect donations for a memorial that was being built for those shaheeds that laid down their lives when attempting to stop the train at Punja Sahib." They even produced a purported Punjab Minister's recommendation on his official letter head. "Oh! This is a laudable effort, just give me the name and address of your organization and I would be happy to donate a few thousands dollars by bank draft sent directly to your organization. I cannot give you cash as we have a lot of snatch thieves here these days and I don't want you to be robbed. In the meantime I will also make a telephone call to the Punjab Minister and tell him that his representatives were here doing a fine job." They soon sensed my drift and made a retreat post haste. I said, "At least wait for a cup of tea, you shouldn't leave on an empty stomach!" But they were in a hurry. I soon phoned our close friends around their target area but each one of them had been conned already, ranging from RM100 to 300. Another two arrived not long after that. They had a different modus operandi. The elderly one wanted to offer ardaas for the general well being of the family. Without waiting to be asked, he started the ardaas, concluding that the 'Gurmukh Parvar' had offered to make a bhayta of RM500/- ... 'Nanak naam chardi kalaa ...' "But I did not make any offer of a bhayta!" "Sorry, but the ardaas cannot be reversed!" "Never mind about that. I will now do another aradas and mention that these two gurmukhs have offered RM1,000/ towards our Gurdwara Building Fund. And since this ardaas too would be irreversible, they could keep 500/- and pay me RM500/- for which I will issue a receipt." Well, they too proved to be in a hurry and disappeared quickly. There is another story of one of these clowns predicting if it was to be a son or daughter. But that will have to wait for another time. Will let you relate your own stories first.

5: Deo (California, U.S.A.), August 03, 2010, 7:50 PM.

This is a great way to educate the people who believe in these made-up things which have no logic.

6: Balbir Singh (Germany), August 04, 2010, 9:43 AM.

Some waste precious time visiting charlatans. They know the world as much as their mind is awakened.

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Sikh-Canadian Throws $100,000 Challenge to Charlatans"

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