For the uninitiated in religious ceremonies, online startups have sprung up across India to keep the Gods happy, this festive season through pujas in cyberspace.
Want to keep Goddess Lakshmi happy but don't know how to perform Puja? Don't worry. Online startups will rescue you this festive season.
Online portals such as Online Prasad and e-Puja are now offering different packages to conduct puja and hawans this Diwali.
Online Prasad is organising a live streaming of Diwali puja. For the last two years, the streaming was offered free of cost. This year, however, it will charge worshippers around Rs 500 for over an hour-long puja session.
For people who want to offer prayers to their deities across famous temples in India, the internet company will also be making advance bookings. On behalf of the customers, a representative of Online Prasad will visit the temples and offer prayers.
A package consisting of the temple prasad, posters of gods and goddesses and a puja kit will then be couriered to the paying customers.
The average ticket size of bookings is around Rs 5,000 as customers usually book for at least 5 to 11 temples, the company said.
The Bangalore-based startup has 40 temples in its list which include famous ones such as Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai, Ganesh Temple in Ranthanbore and Mahalakshmi Temple in Mumbai.
"Last year we made almost 3,000 bookings. This year we expect the numbers to cross at least 4,000," said Goonjan Mall, founder and chief executive officer of Online Prasad.
Another Bangalore-based startup ePuja is offering three special havans – Lakshmi Narayan Havan, Sri Mahalakshmi Havan and Simple Mahalakshmi Havan for Rs.11,000 each. These are 1.5-2 hour long havan sessions conducted exclusively for a worshipper in a dedicated temple in Bangalore. The unedited version of the recording is then shared with the customers post the havan is concluded. It has also made around 12 bookings for Diwali, this year. Indian diaspora is also a big customer of these e-havans.
Besides this, ePuja is also making advance booking for pujas from across 35 special temples this Diwali. "We expect at least 1,000 bookings this Diwali, double than 400-500 bookings it made last year," says Shiva Kumar, founder of e-Puja.
According to Kumar, while demand from non-resident Indians and large cities in India is a given thing, this year a lot of demand has started pouring in from Tier 2,3 cities such as Kanpur, Kota, Shimla etc. The ticket size of the booking range between Rs 3,000-15,000.
Religion and spirituality in Indian is touted to be an approximately USD 40 billion market and is slated to grow by leaps and bounds in the coming years. Online service providers are looking for a foothold in this multi-billion dollar market to satisfy the mortals and immortals, this festive season.