Seafood tycoon Gul Kripalani is the point man for the largest event in Mumbaiís recent memory
Mumbai, February 6: On his direct line at his plush Colaba Causeway office, he has former police chief P S Pasricha. On his cellphone itís a client from France looking to close a mega deal.
Later, in his gold Sonata, shrimp exporter Gul Kripalani gets a call from a Benny Hinn in Dallas, asking if it will rain in Mumbai next weekend.
Could be another frenetic day in a high-society businessmanís life.
But Kripalani, chairman of the Indian Merchants Chamber, has a little-known facet: heís the brain behind American evangelist Hinnís upcoming prayer festival, Mumbaiís largest event in recent memory.
Ten times bigger than the recent World Social Forum, the American preacherís show at the Bandra-Kurla complex on February 13-15 will dwarf anything that Sonia Gandhi and Bal Thackeray have whipped up.
ĎĎPraying for India,íí declare the posters that have taken over railway stations and walls. Over a million are expected at the Bandra-Kurla Complex MHADA grounds between February 13 and 15 for Dallas-based Benny Hinnís ĎFestival of Blessings.í
That includes Governor Mohammed Fazal, whoís confirmed attendance, cream of Mumbaiís high societyóthere are 1.7 lakh seats in the VIP galleryóand lakhs of poor and middle-class faithful.
ĎĎBenny Hinn has a piercing personality and Iím fascinated by him,íí says style guru Sabeera Merchant who plans to attend all three days. ĎĎIím looking forward to meeting an individual who commands so much power, and gives peace to so many people.íí
Hinnís dramatic crusades have attracted millions around the world, who credit him with with unleashing the Holy Spirit on the audience, causing entire sections to swoon under the power of God.
The opposition comes not from the Hindu or Muslim fringe but from the Catholic church. Cardinal Ivan Dias, the archbishop of Mumbai.
While preparations are underway for the mega-event, another giant in the global Christian movement will descend on Mumbai this week. And Kripalani is involved in this as well.
But while Hinn caters to the masses, Atlanta-based philosopher Ravi Zacharias will deliver a provocative lecture in a downtown five-star hotel to the classes: a 100-strong group of select civic leaders and businessmen. Municipal Commissioner Karun Srivastava confirmed his attendance today.
ĎĎBenny Hinn handles the heart; Ravi Zacharias tackles the mind,íí says D S Soholkar, Zachariasí representative in the city.
There is much solace, muses Kriplani, that Mumbaiís party set needs.
ĎĎMy heart goes out to the people of Page 3 because theyíre my friends,íí says Kripalani. ĎĎJust because weíre physically comfortable doesnít mean we have peace of mind.íí
chairs, coming in from Pune as well; Mumbai doesnít have enough
visitors expected to attend the three-day event
distance between the stage and the last row