Since the Navaratri begins on October 17 inaugurating a two-months festive season, it’s only natural that puja services will be required in many devout families. Given the pandemic binding us all at our homes, more and more people are seeking online puja services this year to avoid risking the infection. Although online pujas are nothin new, this year has seen a spike in the trend owing to the pandemic.
ePuja, a service launched in 2015, works from an office in Malleswaram. Shiva Kumar, founder and executive director, says it offers pujas from across 3,600 temples in India. “Customers choose a temple or deity. If it’s a deity they chose, a list of temples will appear, and they can pick one, choose the date of the puja, enter names and check out,” he says.
Customers use the site to pay the temple and make a ‘dakshina’ offering to the priest. “After the puja is done, the ‘prasada’ is sent to us, which we ship for free to customers worldwide. The ‘prasada’ comes in a temple envelope with the customer’s name on it,” he says.
The site also arranges for ‘havans’ (fire rituals) that can’t be performed in many countries in the West because of fire regulations. “Zoom video links and DVDs of pujas are sent to customers,” he says. The pandemic has brought in additional business.
“Navaratri is our biggest season. Covid-19 has confined everyone at home and so we have seen a boom,” says Shiva Kumar.
Poojas.in, working from an office in RR Nagar, facilitates rituals and provides astrology-related services. Mekhala V Jois, the owner, says the pandemic has caused an increase in pujas.
“Since insecurities about career, finance and health have increased, the demand for rituals has also gone up since March,” she says. Chandika Homa is in demand during Navaratri on this site.
In 17 languages
SmartPuja.com, launched in Bengaluru in 2016, has priests who offer services in 17 languages.
“We started out as an in-person service, with online pujas only for clients who were in remote locations who didn’t have access to ‘purohits’. After the pandemic struck, our online services have become more popular,” says Nishchay Chaturvedi, owner. From housewarming ceremonies to marriages, SmartPuja has conducted several ceremonies online. “We have performed 15 marriages online during the lockdown in Mumbai, Kolkata and overseas. The e-puja service has helped us cross geographical boundaries,” he says.
Panditinbangalore.com provides North Indian pandit puja services to people from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh. During the lockdown, most services were held online but offline services are slowly resuming.
“About 40 per cent of our business is puja through online video,” says Pandit Satish Mishra, owner.
How it works
Online puja is performed mainly in two ways in SmartPuja.
Hybrid: A priest comes online, performs the rituals and guides the customer to perform rituals.
Smart: The priest performs all rituals and the customer watches the process live.