In 2006, when Sudha Bhattarai began studying astrology at Purbiya Darshan Bhidyapith in Kathmandu, people used to laugh at her. The situation repeated in 2011 when she actively began practising as a female astrologer.
Now 12 years down the line, the story has already changed. Today, she regularly receives healthy comments. Whereas gaining trust was an issue in those years, there are dozens of people waiting for her service today.
Bhattarai developed her interest in astrology after she met some astrologer friends while pursuing a master’s degree in sociology. She really does not remember any other female astrologer of the time when she began studying astrology.
“That’s why, I encountered numerous individuals who consistently tried to demotivate me by asserting that I would be incapable of achieving anything in this particular field,” Bhattarai recalls.
In yesteryear, astrology was almost exclusively men’s domain. But, in recent years, it has changed and there are several female astrologers in Kathmandu. As Bhattarai says, the perception has changed.
The paradigm shift
Astrology is thriving even today despite some people considering it a superstition. But the field is traditionally dominated by men, particularly within the Brahmin caste. However, a remarkable transformation has occurred over time.
The shift is somehow groundbreaking as women from diverse castes have embraced and excelled in the field. This change has shattered long-standing barriers and opened doors for women to actively participate and contribute to the profession.
According to Rati Devi Joshi Shrestha, the chairwoman of the National Women Astorloger’s Association, there are currently around 25 female astrologers in Nepal. “But the number is growing gradually,” she says, “Over the past few years, I have met many interested females who aspire to become astrologers.”
Shrestha could remember only one female astrologer of the time when she began practising astrology.
Bhagawat Dhakal, the principal at Balmiki Campus, a hub for Eastern philosophy education in Nepal, says the college currently has around 50 female students studying astrology. Some six to seven years ago, there used to be only a handful of students in astrology.
Dhakal expects that the number of female students aspiring to be astrologers will be high in the future
The growing interest of women towards astrology has made both Bhattarai and Shrestha happy. Female astrologers are also satisfied with the profession they have been involved in for the last over one decade.
Amrita Khanal, who has recently completed a bachelor’s in astrology from Balmiki Campus, says that the availability of more academic institutions teaching astrology is attracting women to the field.
“Previously, astrology used to be taught only in gurukuls where only boys would go to study, but now things are different. Both sexes get equal opportunities to study the subject,” says Khanal.
According to astrologer Shrestha, Nepali society was once dominated by a patriarchal mindset, which hindered women from pursuing astrology as a profession. However, there has been a gradual shift, allowing women to break free from these constraints and join schools as they please.
This transformation has created new opportunities and fostered gender equality within the astrological community.
She says people have become well-educated, and they have understood that women are also equally capable in all sectors. These changes have made women thrive in astrology.
Bhattarai says practising female astrologers are motivating aspiring female astrologers. Because the practitioners are research-rich, the aspirants have seen a good future in it.
Currently, Bhattarai runs the astrology service from her own residence located in Kirtipur. And, with over 26,000 followers, Bhattarai is also famous on TikTok. While Bhattarai shares various ideas related to astrology there, she says many followers say they also want to be astrologers like her.
Bhattarai says that she has earned over 100 regular customers. Each day, she provides the service to three to four customers. A few of them are foreigners.
Astrologer Bhattarai further adds that female astrologers have more potential than their male counterparts.
“Women can easily and openly speak about the issues of family, relationships and others; this makes them more capable than males in astrology.”
Shrestha charges Rs 500 for reading a birth chart and Rs 1,500 for writing a birth chart. Bhattarai charges Rs 1,000 for reading a birth chart and Rs 1,500 for writing a birth chart.
One of Shrestha’s clients, Sital Pradhan, a lecturer of biology at Patan Multiple Campus, says astrology is a science, and one who studies it well practises it well, hence gender should not be an issue here.