The Hanuman factor in Indian support to Barack Obama!

June 29th, 2008 - 10:45 am ICT by IANS  


By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 29 (IANS) Indian Americans are switching their loyalties from the Clintons to the likely Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, thanks to Hanuman, so suggests a columnist in the Washington Post. When it comes to American politicians, former president “Bill Clinton has been the darling of India,” wrote Matthew Mosk in his column titled “Indian Americans Take Note of Obama, Thanks to Hanuman” - with a picture of the Hindu monkey god. “That love extended to Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primaries - especially so with respect to fundraising among Indian Americans, who grew to become a significant base of support for her White House bid.”

“But now a surprise revelation during an off-the-cuff exchange in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has turned Barack Obama into the talk of the Indian news media,” he said referring to the brouhaha in India over one of the lucky charms that the Democratic nominee reportedly carries. “One of the trinkets, it turns out, was a tiny figurine of Hanuman - the Hindu monkey god,” said Mosk definitively though the first media reports described it only as what looks like a “tiny monkey god”. Neither Obama nor his campaign has acknowledged if the figurine was indeed that of Hanuman.

More likely it was just a trinket given by one of his supporters. As the columnist recalled it was at a town hall meeting a woman asked Obama what kept him grounded, and in response he emptied his pockets. “People are so generous to me, investing their hopes in me,” he said, holding up a cupped hand full of trinkets. “This I usually don’t show in these town hall meetings. I have all these things that people give me - all these different little good luck charms.”

But for the Indians “It’s a big deal,” said the Post citing Bhavna Pandit, 28, a political fundraising consultant based in Washington “who thinks the revelations will lead to new interest in Obama among Indian American donors.” The daily quoted Pandit as saying “news of the Obama trinket has swept across Indian American living rooms and through Indian newspapers and TV networks.

She said the people she knows as “aunties and uncles” - women and men from her parents’ generation - are suddenly taking note of Obama in a way they had not done before.

“They think it’s kind of neat. They rarely see our religion played out in the mainstream media in America.”

And, she said according to the post, “In India, they’re like, ‘Wow! The person who can be the president has a connection to us that’s very personal. Commenting on the column, one ‘Chaya’ reminded Pandit that ‘Obama was given these trinkets and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did not know who Hanuman is’.”

“Let us not be too dumb to think this somehow connects Hindus to the senator,” said a blogger. “His policies and his abilities to bring change should bring Indians closer to the president, not a trinket. That’s where Clintons proved themselves and are loved by Indians.”

Another reader signing as “Pop Culturalist” agreed. “trinckets are what they are, t-r-i-n-c-k-e-t-s!”

Yet another reader dismissed the whole story with a one-liner: “Trinkets? Are you serious. More media drivel.”

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