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India's 12-12-12 baby hype

Mothers rush to induce babies and have cesareans in bid to give birth on a date not around for another 1,000 years.
Last modified: 12 Dec 2012 18:51
An Indian women with her husband rests with her newborn girl born born on 12.12.12 [AFP]

In a country where mystic signs and superstition are taken very seriously, there is much debate about the significance of 12.12.12.

The trifecta is the last of the century and will only come around again in another 1,000 years.

Astrologers are divided about its virtues. With some saying that it's an auspicious date, while others say the moon's position on the night doesn't correlate with good fortune.

I too am not convinced of the date's merits.

Especially if you go by my attempts to try to get a story on a baby born on the day.

Hospitals have been over-run with bookings for C-section operations or for labour to be induced on this day.

According to Dr Sheetal Sabherwal, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Jeewan Nursing Home, it's not unusual for pregnant women to schedule their operations for specific times if given the choice, but the fervor around December 12 was suprising.

"We didn't imagine that we'd actually have people asking us about the 12.12.12.

"There was a lot of excitement last year, it was 11.11.11. But it's a little more this time because of the awareness that was created last year.

"There are people who believe in numerology, astrology and they come asking, especially if their due date is around that time."

And one of those was the Gill family.

Their child will be the first in its generation, so they thought they would bring the birth forward to make it even more special.

We spoke to them at their final medical check up and there was much excitement.

Mrs Gill told us that when they found out the baby was to be born sometime mid-December, they decided to try to induce the birth for the 12th. She believed it would bring the child and family luck.

Alas, she was to be disappointed.

With a story befitting any good Indian soap opera, the mother-in-law intervened in the last minute, and decided that it shall not be so, the baby should stay in the womb until a later date.

So I decided to consult an astrologer to find out what difference it would make.

My producer, cameraman and I went to the Hanuman Temple in Connaught Place, the oldest temple in Delhi, where soothsayers and numerologists are abundant.

My cameraman was directed to a small room about 30 metres away in a dark, damp alley to what were told was the most accurate astrologer of all. 

Lal Baba, 78, has been an astrologer for 50 years and this is what he said about the matter: "If they're born on 12.12.12 it doesn't mean they'll have exceptional qualities.

"That depends on their personality. And their actions. Their own actions. I'm Madan Lal. People with my name are cobblers, convicts and magistrates. It's all one's actions."

And maybe there's something to it.

Despite hospitals bursting at the seams with deliveries, we were left bereft without a baby, or at least with parents who wanted to talk to us, until we got a call from Dr Sabharwal.

She told us that she had an unexpected arrival with a young lady whose delivery wasn't scheduled but was in hospital with contractions.

She wanted to tell us about her excitement of having a 12.12.12 baby. So we rushed over to talk to her, only to have her go into labour just as we started the interview. So much for our story.

But her story had a happy ending, after a several hours in labour, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy.