A group of self-styled Indian rationalists are challenging astrologers to prove their ability to make predictions for a $100,000 grand prize.
Avtar Gill, a Punjabi resident of Surrey, 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," Gill, 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."
Gill finds it astonishing how popular these astrologers are within his 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 at noon at the Grand Taj Banquet Hall in Surrey.
Astrologers, ghost busters, black-magic practitioners — whatever their speciality — 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.
Avtar Gill of the Tarksheel Cultural Society said his group rented a banquet hall in Surrey for the noon hour showdown with the swamis.
"No astrologers showed up," said Gill, who wanted to debunk the ability of the so-called gurus, swamis and astrologers to predict the future.
The catch may have been the $1,000 security deposit required before answering the questions to claim the prize.
Astrologers say they are able to answer questions based on a person's janam kundli or astrological birth chart.
While the swamis failed to show up Monday, there were plenty of people in the Grand Taj Banquet Hall, which can accommodate 300 people.
"The hall is full," said Gill.
The meeting was advertised in local Punjabi newspapers and on radio stations such as Red-FM and Sher-e-Punjab.