Palmistry study of the palm either for analysing the mental and emotional disposition of an individual or in order to foretell future events in the life of an individual. It is believed that palmistry began in ancient Babylon and Chaldea from where it spread to the rest of the world.

Palmistry is of two kinds: (a) Cheirognomy and (b) Cheiromancy. Cheirognomy is the study of the hand. In this the skin and texture of the hand, the flexibility or rigidity of the thumb and fingers, the length of the digits as well as their positions are taken into account. Thus, the flexibility of the thumb suggests that the individual is flexible or compromising, whereas the rigidity of the thumb suggests that he is uncompromising and rigid in his ideas. Similarly, the position of the thumb in relation to the other digits is believed to reveal other qualities of the person concerned. If the thumb is far from the other fingers, the subject is believed to be liberal and generous. He is generally friendly and likes to help others. However, because he likes freedom and independence, he may not like to be closely associated with anyone. The fingers are believed to indicate the nature of a person. Thus, a well-formed index finger is believed to indicate an independent mind.

The gaps between the fingers are also studied. If the index finger and the middle finger are widely separated, the subject is believed to be independent in thinking and influenced only by reason and logic. Similarly, a wide space between the little finger and the ring finger is believed to indicate independence of action. These persons cannot be forced to do something against their will. They like to work alone rather than with a partner or team. Gaps between all the fingers suggest nonconformity and extreme unconventionality, while absence of gaps suggests formality or conventionality, stinginess and selfishness.

Cheiromancy is the study of the lines on the palm and their positions in relation to the swellings or mounts on the palm, which are associated with different qualities. The palm has a number of long, deep lines that are believed to be the main lines: the head, heart and life lines. There are also a number of other lines that count in palmistry such as the fortune line, the Sun line and the marriage line. A palmist 'reads' a hand by examining the thickness or fineness of the lines, their position on the palm, where they begin and end, which lines they join, etc.

The palmist or ganak is found all over Bangladesh. In the villages the hata ganak or walking-palmist goes from door to door offering his services. These palmists are mostly uneducated but clever enough to satisfy their clients. They wear a special type of dress or don turbans and carry a stick in their hands so that they may be easily identified. They often suggest that their client use some talisman or wear some precious or semi-precious stone to ward off evil influences. This type of ganak pretends to solve all types of problems like the bad influence of Saturn, to fulfil any expectation, to get an enemy into one's grip, to remove a spell or to cast one, to make the disobedient obedient, to win over a reluctant woman, etc. They take their fees in cash or kind. [AR Howladar]