At times of worries and sickness, reaching out to the supreme power or ‘God’ for relief is natural for many. While the pandemic scare and coronavirus panic may make one turn to prayers to overcome the fears, the need to lock down the nation for controlling the pandemic has left people unable to perform some rituals.
In this era of smart devices and the internet, age-old traditions are also getting a boost with the help of technology.
Like most things during the pandemic, puja rituals in the month of 'shravan' have also gone virtual. Quite a few temples in NCR are shut, including some in Delhi’s hotspot areas. To ensure social distancing, limited entry is allowed at most temples. This has led devotees to take to the virtual route to ensure that they don’t miss out on the essential puja ceremonies and 'rudra abhishek'.
Besides the NRIs, devotees in India are also opting for virtual pujas to maintain social distance. Ritu Gupta, a Kanpur-based homemaker, says, “Every year, in the month of 'shravan', we organise a grand puja and worship lord Shiva. But, no temples are open near my house this year, and I have had to book for a particular puja in a temple in Noida. One of my relatives who lives in Noida told me that the temple in their society is open, and the pandit ji there was organising live-streaming of pujas for others as well, for which I paid ₹5,100.”
To put together the entire two hour rudra abhishek, there are various packages. “We are charging ₹3,100 for the ritual. Since no one will be available physically, we will take the sankalp (resolution) with their names and complete the puja here, in the temple itself. And not just from America, we are receiving queries from various parts of the world,” said Tripathi, a priest in Dwarka.
Pandits performing online pujas have fixed packages like: Rs 21,000 for marriage, Rs 2,100 for 'mundan', Rs 31,000 for death rituals and Rs 1 lakh for pujan.
Many start-up companies have also started during this pandemic, which help you to request for a priest online. The website lists priests for different occasions and also provides necessary details like availability and ingredients for the exact ritual.
Life may seem to have come to a halt due to the pandemic and the lockdown, but like they said, "the show must go on".