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December 5, 2009

More Memorable by the Name

Seveenty Fiive Graand?


MUMBAI, India — Sanjay B. Jumaani has your number — and for

a fee he will offer you an upgrade.

Mr. Jumaani is one of this bustling city’s most famous

numerologists. He studies dates of birth and other numbers
associated with his clients — who include Bollywood stars,
famed cricket players and corporations — and then suggests
changes to names, wardrobe or jewelry that can improve
their fortunes.

After seeking help from him and other numerologists, actors

have added or dropped letters from their names — the actor
Ajay Devgan recently became Ajay Devgn. Filmmakers have
deliberately misspelled the titles of their movies —
“Singgh is Kinng” was a recent hit. And companies have
redesigned brands and logos.

Sajivv Trehaan, who heads the tour company the Travel

Corporation (India), said Mr. Jumaani’s counsel has been a
key to many of his business successes.

“The world has changed for me,” Mr. Trehaan said about the
time seven years ago when Mr. Jumaani suggested he change
his name from Sajiv Trehan. “We were a small company at the
time. Now we have seven offices overseas. And I live in

In addition to the rich and famous, many average Indians

also consult Mr. Jumaani and his competitors — of which
there are many. The advice these new-age counselors offer
is not cheap. Mr. Jumaani charges individual clients 40,200
rupees, which is about $9 or roughly one month’s pay for
household servants. Businesses pay a lot more. Mr. Jumaani
won’t say how much.

Critics say that numerology and its offshoots are expensive

distractions that lure people in with promises of a
brighter future.

“This practice caters to people’s craving to know, modify

or improve their future,” said Prabir Ghosh, an author who
has debated astrologers and numerologists on Indian
television. Mr. Ghosh, who is the general secretary of the
Science and Rationalists’ Association of India, has said
his group will pay numerologists, astrologers and other
spiritual guides two billion rupee ($43,000) if they prove
that their practices work as advertised. He has made no
payments so far.

Proponents of numerology counter that it, like religion,

should require no proof because it’s based on faith. “If
you have the faith, you believe in it,” said Vipul Amrutlal
Shah, the producer of “Singh is Kinng.” “We in the cinema
are gamblers. We don’t know whether our gambles will pay
off. It makes us a little superstitious.”

According to Mr. Jumaani, people’s personalities and

destinies are shaped by the interplay of various numbers.
Among the most important are numbers derived from birth
dates, like the sum of the digits that make up the day of
birth. Babies born on the 28th day of a month, for example,
are said to have a good life ahead of them because 2 and 8
add up to 10, and 1 plus 0 equals 1.

One, three, five and six are considered auspicious numbers:

Mr. Jumaani points out that Bill Gates was born on Oct. 28,

Numbers correspond to the sun, the moon or a planet; one is

the sun, two is the moon, three is Jupiter and so on.

But people who are not born on a fortunate date need not
despair. “We cannot give you Mr. Ambani’s date of birth,”
he said referring to the Indian industrialist Mukesh
Ambani, whose birthday adds up to one. “But we can help you
with your name.”

Mr. Jumaani, 41, learned numerology from his father, Bansil

M. Jumani, and says it helped him escape a dead-end 17-year
career as a liquor distributor. He credits his success to
his father’s suggestion that he start using his middle
initial. The elder Mr. Jumani died in 2006.
Mr. Jumaani works with his sister, Swetta Jumaaani. His
wife, Jhernna S. Jumaanii, sells gems and jewelry to his
clients. Her brand is named Gemz Bonnd’z Jewelz.

Some who have changed their names said that their lives
remain, well, unchanged. Shobhaa Dée, an author and
columnist, added an extra “a” to her first name after the
elder Mr. Jumani suggested she do so, in a letter, sent to
her after she mocked an actor who had changed his name.

“I took it as a challenge, and added the ‘a,’ ” she said in

an e-mail message. “My signature looked a whole lot better.
I stuck to it. But I still haven’t seen the money.”

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