India's Visa God: A Secret Immigration Weapon?
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India — so colorful and vibrant! Home to many fascinating beliefs and practices, like human marriage to dogs and bride burning as a punishment for women with insufficient dowries.

These days, thousands of supposedly well educated and rational Indians believe that circumambulating a statue of Lord Balaji will bring them their much desired H-1b visa to the United States. Such is the diversity headed in this direction.

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. [Divine Intervention? Indians Seek Help from the 'Visa God', Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2007]

Mexican drug smugglers have their beloved Narco-Saint Jesus Malverde and Indians have their Lord Balaji. Americans have so much incoming diversity to celebrate.

In other Indian culture news, an immigrant in Chicago is accused of setting an apartment fire to commit multiple murders: Father accused of killing pregnant daughter and her family (CNN, Jan 1, 2008).

Prosecutors allege [Subhash] Chander used gasoline to start the fire late Saturday. The India native told police he disliked his son-in-law because he belonged to a lower caste and had married his daughter without his consent, said Cook County First Assistant State's Attorney Robert Milan.

"His son-in-law was beneath him in his opinion," Milan said.

Thanks, India, for a diverse new motivation for murder!
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