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sankap
12-31-2007, 01:39 AM
Divine Intervention? Indians Seek Help From the 'Visa God'
Priest Says Prayers May Aid Those Trying to Enter U.S.; A Job With Amazon.com[
By VAUHINI VARA
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
December 31, 2007

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119906283337358633.html?mod=hps_us_inside_today

HYDERABAD, India -- Lord Balaji is one of the most-worshiped local incarnations of the Hindu Lord Vishnu. His adherents flock to his many temples to pray for things like happiness, prosperity and fertility.

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 Visa God's growing celebrity reflects the rising frustration of educated Indians hoping to move West. In recent years, it's become harder to win the employer-sponsored "H-1B" visas that let skilled professionals like engineers work in the U.S. While the U.S. limits the number of H-1Bs granted each year to 65,000, the demand for visas keeps rising.

For the fiscal year ended September 2004, it took 11 months for the U.S. government to receive 65,000 applications for H-1B visas; last fiscal year, it took two months. This fiscal year, the U.S. government received more than 65,000 applications in one day. Applications are now assigned a random number, and the first 90,000 to 110,000 are processed and accepted or rejected until the quota is reached.

Technology Hub

Hyderabad, a city of seven million once known for its pearl trade, has become a fast-growing technology hub. Indian citizens have been the biggest group of H-1B holders in recent years and Hyderabad has forged ties to U.S. companies such as Microsoft Corp., which employ large numbers of H-1Bs. Companies such as Accenture Ltd. and Dell Inc. have also set up huge development and service centers in the city. That's brought a cultural shift, as young middle-class locals replace traditional Indian clothing with jeans and T-shirts and hang out at newly opened malls and coffee shops.

On a recent Saturday evening, as a statue of the flower-draped Visa God sat at the back of the modest temple, a cross-legged Mr. Gopala Krishna took responsibility for the visa fervor. Around him, visitors were speed-walking, heads down, as they made the necessary 11 circles around the temple to gain the favor of the Visa God. The temple was about to close, and some visitors broke into a jog.

"At other temples, elders bring their children," says Mr. Gopala Krishna. "In this temple, children bring their elders."

He was born at the temple, where his father was once head priest, and later left to live with relatives in Hyderabad. Mr. Gopala Krishna studied commerce in college and in 1968 started working at Hindustan Lever, a consumer-products giant. In 1999, he came back to the temple to take care of his father, and then became the head priest himself.

At the time, the temple attracted few visitors. "The temple has been there for at least 100 years with nobody visiting," says Ravi Babu, a longtime Hyderabad resident who runs the local chapter of the Indus Entrepreneurs, a club for entrepreneurs.

Wooing Microsoft

By then, Hyderabad was changing. Local officials were on a tear to turn Hyderabad into the next Bangalore, the high-tech capital of the neighboring state of Karnataka. They started referring to Hyderabad as "Cyberabad." They fixed roads and wooed Microsoft and General Electric Co. to set up offices there.

Hoping to capitalize on all the activity, technical colleges sprouted up in the city's outskirts near Mr. Gopala Krishna's temple. Students started trickling by on their way home from school; many complained about their failed attempts to secure U.S. visas. That gave the priest an idea to sell the students on the deity by giving him a new persona, "Visa God." Mr. Gopala Krishna counseled the students in English, then told them to walk around the temple 11 times to get their wish. "I used to say, 'Go, this time you'll get it,'" he recalls.

Soon, Mr. Gopala Krishna started seeing dozens -- then hundreds -- of new visitors a day. In 2005, some local newspapers wrote about the Visa God, just as new U.S. visa restrictions were taking a toll. Mr. Gopala Krishna and his relatives also launched a Web site and a newsletter called Voice of Temples, with features like a primer of sample prayers for help in visa interviews.

The temple's popularity surged. Last year, a public battle between Mr. Gopala Krishna's family and the local government, which briefly wanted to take the temple over, only boosted its appeal among the young and subversive. Now devotees of the Visa God say they have to reach the temple by 6 a.m. to avoid the daytime rush.

Rajendra Vippagunta, a 28-year-old now working for Amazon.com Inc. in Seattle, visited the temple in 2001 and saw few others. On a more recent visit, he says, "it was really, really jam-packed." Mr. Vippagunta didn't know about the Visa God the first time he visited the temple, but it may have had an effect anyway: The following year, he got a visa to move to the U.S.

Mr. Babu of the Indus Entrepreneurs says the appeal of the Visa God boils down to the following: "Even if you're not religious, you say, 'Why not? I can just go and spend a few minutes and get a visa,'" he says.

Write to Vauhini Vara at vauhini.vara@wsj.com

http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/OB-AW416_IT_Vis_20071230224049.gif

Visitors to the Chilkur Balaji temple wait in line to pray to Lord Balaji, the 'Visa God:'
http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/P1-AK023_VISAGO_20071230212143.jpg

sapota
12-31-2007, 03:01 AM
I just visited GC temple today. Hoping for the year 2008 to be a boon for those under the spell of retrogression.

Humor aside, I do believe that FAITH in anything is actually a reflection of FAITH in yourself.

JazzByTheBay
12-31-2007, 03:43 AM
The logical view of things would perhaps prove this to be a reflection of *lack* of faith in yourself... :)

Nevertheless, like most things in life, faith never follows any logic. You have it or you don't.

Thanks for posting the story/link...

cheers!
jazz

I just visited GC temple today. Hoping for the year 2008 to be a boon for those under the spell of retrogression.

Humor aside, I do believe that FAITH in anything is actually a reflection of FAITH in yourself.

gveerab
12-31-2007, 04:39 AM
I hard this story from lot of my hyderabad friends. I visited this temple once, there was huge rush.
Let's hope lord Balaji helps us to get GC in 2008.
Wish you All Happy new Year.

god_bless_you
12-31-2007, 11:12 AM
Faith Moves Mountains.

lotsofspace
12-31-2007, 12:38 PM
It's about time to invent a "G.C.God" :) :)

deardar
12-31-2007, 12:45 PM
It's about time to invent a "G.C.God" :) :)

I believe he was already there - just that we might have to name him.
Dunno how many people infact think about "GC god" more than god , :confused:

immigrationvoice1
12-31-2007, 01:22 PM
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/Ahmedabad/Visa_Hanuman_fulfils_dollar_dreams/articleshow/2661496.cms

pappu
12-31-2007, 01:38 PM
The problem with most religious folks I have met is that they are more interested in 'akarmanya' (not doing any work) and just resigning to fate. Remember, God helps those who help themselves.

fromnaija
12-31-2007, 01:53 PM
God helps those who help themselves.

That, my friends, is the crux of the matter! Help IV to help you.

lotsofspace
12-31-2007, 02:43 PM
Interesting observations !!!



..............

"I've never heard of anyone who's gone to the temple whose visa got rejected," says Mr. Dolagobinda.

.............


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.



That is about 5 million visitors in a year. Assuming only 20% got their visas, that is still a million visas per year. :) :) Wonder what country visas might they be :rolleyes:

lotsofspace
12-31-2007, 03:59 PM
This article is mocking the religion in India. It shows that Indians have blind faith (read primitive) despite having advanced degrees and qualified to come to USA. I wonder why no Indian as taken offense to it. Are there no rational people in India or rational Indians in USA?

If temple can help get visas, then maybe IV should build a temple for green card god and stop lobbying. Everyone will agree that starting a green card temple is a ridiculous idea. Then why isn't any Indian opposing this exploitation and twisting of religion in India. It is all about money that goes in the pockets of priests and has nothing to do with visas.

It is sad that our Indian friends are discussing this article with interest rather than disdain.

As foolish as it looks, there is a truth to the story. Many people go there to prey for visa. Although it shows these devotees in bad light , I don't think it is a statement on religion in India. There are different kinds of devotees and different practices. Many religions believe in miracles , some less and some more.

There are folks who still believe the stone statues can drink the milk. What can you say ? President of a country kneels down at self professed Gods. Govt spends money to accommodate the celebrations of birthdays of these so called (Living)Godmen who can create statues from thin air and regurgitate statues. It is sad but true.

at0474
12-31-2007, 04:04 PM
In the ancient times, indian civilization and culture was the most advanced and matured of all . Sad thing is, it is frozen in the ancient times. While successfully trying to catch up with 21st century materialism, our society's thinking has not advanced a bit from pre-historic era.

Green_Always
12-31-2007, 04:06 PM
yeah.. If God was there he would have treated or seen everyone on earth "equally the same".

then everyone will get GC's :o

no race / colour difference in people everyone has same colour skin

no rich and poor difference.

etc etc..

asanghi
12-31-2007, 04:09 PM
As foolish as it looks, there is a truth to the story. Many people go there to prey for visa. Although it shows these devotees in bad light , I don't think it is a statement on religion in India. There are different kinds of devotees and different practices. Many religions believe in miracles , some less and some more.

There are folks who still believe the stone statues can drink the milk. What can you say ? President of a country kneels down at self professed Gods. Govt spends money to accommodate the celebrations of birthdays of these so called (Living)Godmen who can create statues from thin air and regurgitate statues. It is sad but true.

I think we Indians are too critical of ourselves. I am not fan of Godmen, but if pope sitting in Vatican church can influence US president decisions, what's wrong with Indian president bowing before a Godman. I have met people here who believe that a certain statue of Mary sheds tears of blood or a cross that keeps on growing by itself. All religions have there own blind faiths. The westerners have a tendency to overlook their own weaknesses and make fun of others' weaknesses. We don't have to laugh at our own weaknesses with them.

lotsofspace
12-31-2007, 04:24 PM
I think we Indians are too critical of ourselves. I am not fan of Godmen, but if pope sitting in Vatican church can influence US president decisions, what's wrong with Indian president bowing before a Godman. I have met people here who believe that a certain statue of Mary sheds tears of blood or a cross that keeps on growing by itself. All religions have there own blind faiths. The westerners have a tendency to overlook their own weaknesses and make fun of others' weaknesses. We don't have to laugh at our own weaknesses with them.

As I said you are free to believe what you want. I never saw pope creating crosses from thin air or bringing them from his mouth. I agree that most , if not all , religions believe in miracles. Faith is just what it is, FAITH.

lotsofspace
12-31-2007, 04:25 PM
yeah.. If God was there he would have treated or seen everyone on earth "equally the same".

then everyone will get GC's :o

no race / colour difference in people everyone has same colour skin

no rich and poor difference.

etc etc..

True. No one needs a GC. You will be happy where you are.

asanghi
12-31-2007, 04:58 PM
As I said you are free to believe what you want. I never saw pope creating crosses from thin air or bringing them from his mouth. I agree that most , if not all , religions believe in miracles. Faith is just what it is, FAITH.

Yes, he does not create crosses from his mouth. But he ordained saintship to Mother Teresa. The reason, she created a "miracle" when after she gave blessings to a person, he healed of cancer ... oh by the way never mind the fact that he was undergoing medical treatment at the same time as well.

immigrationvoice1
12-31-2007, 05:19 PM
We should start worshiping our magicians now who can do everything what modern godmen can do. See the reference of Sai Baba in the URL below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.C._Sorcar%2C_Jr.

lotsofspace
12-31-2007, 05:46 PM
Yes, he does not create crosses from his mouth. But he ordained saintship to Mother Teresa. The reason, she created a "miracle" when after she gave blessings to a person, he healed of cancer ... oh by the way never mind the fact that he was undergoing medical treatment at the same time as well.

Please don't get me wrong. I am not sitting here to defend Pope or any other religion. The intent of my original post is that the story has truth to it. Yes it shows some people in bad light but that is the TRUTH.

Just wanted to point out the extent to which people go in their beliefs. As I stated before most religions believe in miracles and you are free to believe what you want to believe (As long as it won't hurt others).

I want to state there are many con men in India who declare them selves as GOD. They don't talk about God. THEY ARE GOD.

I know a person who was living on his state pension ( < Rs 5K per month) don't own a house recently paid Rs.10,000 one of these God men just to ask a question.

"Will my son get a visa this year ?"

They say, they used to charge Rs. 25k for a question and he was lucky to get it answered for Rs. 10,000. Probably some New Year sale going on :) :)

I tried to put some sense in to this guy with no avail. There are only two possible answers , YES OR NO. What do you do based on the answer. (He has already applied, got approval and due for stamping before asking the question). Do you stop going for stamping if the GOD says "NO , you don't get a visa ".

Again, this guy is free to trust his so called God. What kind of god takes money to talk to their devotees ? What kind of God preaches to get rid of all material wealth and treats himself with golden plates, chairs and every thing gold ?

Sorry for my rant. This is one of my pet peeves.

at0474
12-31-2007, 06:14 PM
Well said lotsofspace!

I hope they have separate lines for nonimmigrant and permanent residency devotees. Also, they should maintain order of priority date in the permanent residency line. Someone should talk to the priest about these intricacies.

By the way, every religion has fanatics, moderates and idiots. Idiots are the most dangerous. They always justify stupidity by saying if other religious followers eat dung, we do too.What's wrong with that? Ofcourse, context doesn't matter.

pthoko
12-31-2007, 06:36 PM
I think we Indians are too critical of ourselves. I am not fan of Godmen, but if pope sitting in Vatican church can influence US president decisions, what's wrong with Indian president bowing before a Godman. I have met people here who believe that a certain statue of Mary sheds tears of blood or a cross that keeps on growing by itself. All religions have there own blind faiths. The westerners have a tendency to overlook their own weaknesses and make fun of others' weaknesses. We don't have to laugh at our own weaknesses with them.

Are you a fanatic?? You seem to be from your post...

meridiani.planum
12-31-2007, 06:53 PM
Interesting observations !!!



That is about 5 million visitors in a year. Assuming only 20% got their visas, that is still a million visas per year. :) :) Wonder what country visas might they be :rolleyes:

Many of them get a visa that is not counted in any quota (http://www.usa.visa.com/personal/cards/credit/index.html?it=h4|/personal/cards/credit/visa_signature.jsp|Credit%20Cards). :D

abhijitp
12-31-2007, 07:14 PM
The problem with most religious folks I have met is that they are more interested in 'akarmanya' (not doing any work) and just resigning to fate. Remember, God helps those who help themselves.

Very true.

You have the right only to your Karma... not to the fruit it (almost certainly) brings in the end!

But if you only fret about your situation and do nothing, you will never taste that fruit!

Why look anywhere else? Six months ago, people reacted in two ways to the VB fiasco...
1. send flowers and/or march in SJ and/or write to the media and/or support IV in any other way
2. laugh at these efforts... speculate about how good the October VB will be... even pray to the Gods... but do nothing!

Everyone knows who won in the end and why.

lotsofspace
12-31-2007, 07:17 PM
Many of them get a visa that is not counted in any quota (http://www.usa.visa.com/personal/cards/credit/index.html?it=h4|/personal/cards/credit/visa_signature.jsp|Credit%20Cards). :D

:D:D:D

asanghi
12-31-2007, 07:23 PM
Please don't get me wrong. I am not sitting here to defend Pope or any other religion. The intent of my original post is that the story has truth to it. Yes it shows some people in bad light but that is the TRUTH.

Just wanted to point out the extent to which people go in their beliefs. As I stated before most religions believe in miracles and you are free to believe what you want to believe (As long as it won't hurt others).

I want to state there are many con men in India who declare them selves as GOD. They don't talk about God. THEY ARE GOD.

I know a person who was living on his state pension ( < Rs 5K per month) don't own a house recently paid Rs.10,000 one of these God men just to ask a question.

"Will my son get a visa this year ?"

They say, they used to charge Rs. 25k for a question and he was lucky to get it answered for Rs. 10,000. Probably some New Year sale going on :) :)

I tried to put some sense in to this guy with no avail. There are only two possible answers , YES OR NO. What do you do based on the answer. (He has already applied, got approval and due for stamping before asking the question). Do you stop going for stamping if the GOD says "NO , you don't get a visa ".

Again, this guy is free to trust his so called God. What kind of god takes money to talk to their devotees ? What kind of God preaches to get rid of all material wealth and treats himself with golden plates, chairs and every thing gold ?

Sorry for my rant. This is one of my pet peeves.

Yes! I agree with you on this. There are a lot of people like that and that's why business of likes of Pundit Maharaj & Ajmeri baba flourish

asanghi
12-31-2007, 07:37 PM
Are you a fanatic?? You seem to be from your post...

I was just making a point in response to lotsofpeace's post. I don't condone any such things like "Visa God" or Godmen. I don't think there is anything in my post that would qualify me as fanatic.

I don't know what part of world are you from, but I am from India and it does bother me to have noticed that many Indians make fun of things Indian because they believe that everything Indian is conservative and backward and everything western is COOL.

h1bmajdoor
12-31-2007, 08:19 PM
This article is mocking the religion in India. It shows that Indians have blind faith (read primitive) despite having advanced degrees and qualified to come to USA. I wonder why no Indian as taken offense to it. Are there no rational people in India or rational Indians in USA?

.

hindus have blind faith.

that is because they lack self confidence.

and when the goras push them up the tree, ("they are good at math"), the fools refuse to come down from the "jhaadi".

(in north india, the expression is "jhaad pe chadhana", or, leading up the garden path).

the not so funny question is - how did i get into all this...

humdesi
12-31-2007, 09:28 PM
This article is mocking the religion in India.

It is not mocking anybody. It is just reporting some interesting events.

lotsofspace
12-31-2007, 10:26 PM
Why don't you cowards express your opinion instead of just going around and giving an anonymous RED ?

bestia
01-01-2008, 12:11 AM
Why don't you cowards express your opinion instead of just going around and giving an anonymous RED ?

Don't worry about these reds. At first I reacted too. People put reds for whatever reason (or no reason whatsoever). I would worry if these reds would somehow damage my GC processing :)

lotsofspace
01-01-2008, 03:52 AM
Don't worry about these reds. At first I reacted too. People put reds for whatever reason (or no reason whatsoever). I would worry if these reds would somehow damage my GC processing :)

I know :) I don't really care but it felt good to call them out :)

immigration
01-01-2008, 02:28 PM
I have been to the Visa Balaji temple and it is true the place has some "divine immigration connection". I had been waiting for my Canadian Permanent Residency for 4 years and I visited the temple in almost desperation and in just 2 months it was there. Different story that I stayed in Canada for a fourth of my waiting years...got a US ka bulava and I am here ...waiting for over 4 years.

sapota
01-01-2008, 03:17 PM
The logical view of things would perhaps prove this to be a reflection of *lack* of faith in yourself... :)

Nevertheless, like most things in life, faith never follows any logic. You have it or you don't.

Thanks for posting the story/link...

cheers!
jazz

A lot of times in drug trials; subjects taking the placebo, report remarked improvement when told that they are taking a drug to cure their ailment. This fact defies 'logic'; if you assume that the mind has no bearing on our actions.

Of course, the first amendment grants that a person is free to believe what he/she wants.

reddymjm
01-01-2008, 03:21 PM
The problem with most religious folks I have met is that they are more interested in 'akarmanya' (not doing any work) and just resigning to fate. Remember, God helps those who help themselves.

Most of them do not do what they can do with in their reach and beleives in faith and god will do some thing for them.

ITs like winning a lottery without buying a one.

You can win the fake ones from europe or kenya etc.

bestia
01-01-2008, 04:12 PM
A lot of times in drug trials; subjects taking the placebo, report remarked improvement when told that they are taking a drug to cure their ailment. This fact defies 'logic'; if you assume that the mind has no bearing on our actions.

Of course, the first amendment grants that a person is free to believe what he/she wants.

I disagree, placebo has very logical explanation. Sometimes your brain doesn't cure you, but does more damage by "mistreating" your body. By convincing yourself, that you are already receiving treatment or already cured, you stop your brain from "mistreating" you. One of the examples of such mistreating is bleeding (internal and external), allergy, various unnecessary reactions to infections, shock, etc.

Placebo has nothing to do with "faith", "mind", "karma" and things like that.