Do you believe in astrology? I do! Scientists say that the planets in the solar system affect our Earth and all the beings living on its surface. I accept that too. I grew up in a family that gave considerable importance to the current position of planets and the effect of their transitions on our life. They also had a significant influence on my family’s not only major but also minor decisions.

My childhood home was next to my mother’s ancestral home. My mother’s parents and 7 younger siblings were staying there. Horoscopes, planetary positions, and their transitions were part of the daily conversations there, especially when the marriage proposal of one or the other of my aunts/uncles was in progress. Thus I had always been fascinated by the 12 squares in the horoscope chart. Little did I know then that the position of the nine planets on those 12 squares decides one’s future!

Later I was introduced to the 12 zodiac signs in Western astrology by my high school friends, and also to Linda Goodman! Until then I was familiar with only Vedic astrology having 27 stars or nakshatras. All birthdays in the family were celebrated on the birth-star day of the corresponding month of the Malayalam calendar. There was no cake-cutting in those days, but a temple visit and the sadya (traditional Kerala meal) with payasam (a sweet rice pudding) on a plantain leaf was a must.

I started celebrating birthdays based on the Western zodiac signs during and after my college days, including of course the cake-cutting. My friends and I were more interested in comparisons and compatibility with others. We were not much bothered about knowing the future, unlike today. 🙂

Later, I started having this habit of looking up the zodiac signs of famous personalities. Recently I made a list of my favourite personalities who happened to be Librans! I was curious to know whether we share any common traits, other than the zodiac sign! Here are my memories of a few of them:

  1. Mahatma Gandhi – 2 October 1869: We all know him as the great leader who led India to freedom from the British.  But my childhood memories of Gandhiji started with ‘Sevanavaram’ – a week of service – which is how my school celebrated Gandhiji’s birthday. The teachers and we children used to clean the premises, and then the teachers made payasam there in the school and distributed it to all the students. We also used to stand in silence for 2 minutes at 11 a.m. every 30 January in honour of Gandhiji’s death anniversary. I am not sure whether any of the schools remember him in this manner nowadays! Recently I read that Steve Jobs was a fan of Mahatma Gandhi, and his wearing the famous round glasses was a tribute to the great man!
  2. R K Narayan – 10 October 1906: He is my all time favourite writer. Whenever I hear his name my memories go back to his imaginary village, Malgudi. Doordarshan used to telecast Malgudi Days as a weekly television serial and I can clearly hear its signature tune even now while writing this piece. Do you know he had failed in English while attempting his University Entrance Exam!? His autobiography, My Days is the first autobiography I have ever read. It’s so simple and honest.
  3. Jimmy Carter – 1 October 1924:  I clearly recall learning by heart the US President’s name for my scholarship exams in school. I had trouble remembering the name and used ‘JimmyC’ as a memory aid. 🙂 Recently I learned that he was the first US President to be born in a hospital! Did you know that a village (Daulatpur) in Haryana, India, was renamed ‘Carterpuri’, to commemorate his visit there, and the date, 3 January, became a village holiday?
  4. Julia Andrews – 1 October 1935: She is an Oscar-winning actress and singer famous for her roles in films like Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. I don’t think there is anyone who hasn’t watched The Sound of Music or hummed the following lines:              ‘Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
    Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens,
    Brown paper packages tied up with strings,
    These are a few of my favourite things…’
  5.  Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam – 15 October 1931: When the world celebrates Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam’s birthday as ‘Students’ Day’, I celebrate my birthday too! While he was President of India, he used to get a huge amount of mail from people in all walks of life and was known to send thank-you notes in his own handwriting with personalized messages. Dr Kalam had a keen interest in literature and wrote poems in his native Tamil language. He was a rocket scientist and was popularly known as the Missile Man. His autobiography Wings of Fire is a must read! According to him: ‘We are all born with a divine fire in us. Our efforts should be to give wings to this fire.

My list of favaourite Librans goes on with Annie Besant, Amitabh Bachchan, Lata Mangeshkar, Margaret Thatcher, Alfred Nobel, Le Corbusier, Oscar Wilde, Vladimir Putin, Deepak Chopra, Hema Malini, Rekha, Smita Patil, Mira Nair, Prannoy Roy, Kate Winslet, and so on. The list contains powerful world leaders, great film actors, famous singers, eminent writers, world-famous scientists, renowned architects, and top sportspersons.

I couldn’t find any common traits with them other than the zodiac sign itself! One outcome of this exercise has been that seeing their great achievements, I have decided not to say “I don’t have enough time” anymore, as I have exactly the same number of hours per day as was given to them. 🙂

Looking back, I have friends from all zodiac signs, but the majority are Librans! Even in my family, my brother, my son, my niece and my nephew are Librans. But we do not have much in common, rather, we all are weird in our own way 🙂

No matter what our Sun sign is, we all are affected by the 12 signs of the zodiac, as the Sun and the other planets cycle through the horoscope over the course of a year. There is no meaning in comparing ourselves with others. We are all unique in our own way. So, the only person we should be trying to outdo is the person we were yesterday!

Also, I think the term ‘compatible’ is itself relative, and it is time-bound as well. At various phases of our life, the so-called ‘compatible people’ cross our path for a reason unknown to us. The success in any relationship depends on how we handle the incompatibility.

Though I have switched to Vedic astrology for birthdays, western zodiac signs fascinate me even now. Does anyone out there have the habit of finding Zodiac signs of celebrities like me? BTW, what’s your zodiac sign? Do you have Libran friends?

Happy empty nesting to all the zodiac signs out there! 🙂



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