With the most favourite festival of the state around the corner, everyone is busy making celebration plans. In Pune, where the public celebration of the festival first started over 125 years ago, it has always been seen as a means to bring positive social changes, imparting education and spreading awareness about social evils.
Over the years, various aspects of the festival have undergone changes. Today, technology has become an integral part of it. Right from booking the puja slots at the busiest city temples to virtually offering the puja or online buying of the Ganesh idols, technology has made sure that from the comforts of our home, we not only perform the rituals but can also cherish the memories.
Ordering things online is not a big deal today and that applies to Ganesh idols too. There are many options to order idols through the online mode which will be delivered at your doorstep.
With the increasing awareness regarding celebrating the festival in an eco-friendly manner, the demand for clay Ganeshas is on the rise. Gaurav Shaligram, an IT professional says, “For the last two years, I have been ordering Ganapati idols on popular websites like Amazon and Flipkart. It gives me the choice to select and does not need me to go out. It’s very convenient.”
Hard pressed for time when it comes to buying all the puja paraphernalia? Don’t worry! There are numerous websites to help you choose the right kind of flowers and other material including supari (betel nut), rice, coconut, piece of red fabric, incense stick, matchbox, rose water, cow urine and so on. All you need to do is visit the sites, choose a package, and it will be delivered to your house.
Among the major players, Bigbasket (www.bigbasket.com) offers the puja thali for Rs 1125 and delivers it in two to three days. At Amazon (www.amazon.in), the puja kit comes for Rs 750 and has a booklet with introduction, instructions, shlokas and Ganesh Ashtotarashata naamaavali in Devanagari, English, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu scripts. Delivery time is 6-10 days.
Ebay (www.ebay.in) delivers the items in 8 to 10 days and is priced at Rs 1125.
Book your Pandit
There are a few websites like My Pandit G or allpanditji.com which give you the entire puja information right from the material required, to arranging it, the sitting arrangement of the hosts, et al. At My Pandit G, the Ganesh Chaturthi puja comes for Rs 3,100, while at allpanditji.com, you have to book the pandit who will come to your place to carry out the rituals. The rates are varied. However, these sites are more popular in Mumbai and North India.
Here, in Pune, it is the ‘guruji’, who is preferred over booking a pandit online. Sandeep Kulkarni, a priest, says, “For the last five years, I have been helping my UK based clients with the puja rituals. We decide a time, day and through Skype or web camera, we conduct the rituals.”
He adds that there are many Indians residing outside the country who are religious, but do not want to reveal this side of their personality to the world. “So conducting such rituals helps them strike a balance between their beliefs and their social life.”
During the online puja, says Kulkarni, the priest has to convey to the hosts each and every minute detail, right from arranging the place where the puja will be held to the sitting position, placing of flowers, rice grains and other things.
Another city-based priest Prakash Pathak says, “Conducting online puja saves on our time but at times it lacks the personal interface between the guruji (priest) and the person(s) performing it. Most of my clients are based out of US, but they are originally from the city.”
Avdhoot Joshi, a retired government personnel, has now taken up the profession. Says he, “Because of my age, it is difficult for me to move from one place to another to instruct the hosts on the puja rituals. Online puja makes it simple and easy as sitting at one place, I can address 11 different Ganesh mandals at the same time without losing out on the muhurat.”
Online pujas help NRIs to tell their children about Indian traditions and festivals and how these festivals are celebrated with fervour and piousness, says Kulkarni.
However, all three rue the fact that although the digital medium allows them the facility to attend to a large number of people at the same time and also get good monetary returns for the services, the satisfaction that a priest gets here is debatable.
The Eco bappa app designed by Maharashtra Pollution Control Board ((MPCB) is an android app which helps people know how to celebrate an eco-friendly festival, as also about idol making and the availability of artificial pond for immersion.
Then, Maharashtra’s popular temple idol Shrimant Dagadusheth Halwai Ganapati also has created its app which helps you to know the brief history of this Ganapati. Besides that, you can download free images, wallpapers, audio clips and videos officially and can get Bappa’s darshan every day. The app is available on dagadushethganpati.com
Taal Vadyapathak is an app that provides the traditional dhol pathak services for various Ganesh mandals. It is created by 45 young members aged between 15 and 35 years in the year 2010, who are associated with Tambadi Jogeshwari Mandal Trust, Shrimant Bhau Rangari mandal, Hutatma Babu Genu Mandal Trust among others.
Then, there is Rudragarjana app which has members aged between 10 and 65 years. It has a whopping 600 members and still counting. There are many apps for Ganesh vandana, stotra, puja and wallpapers.
With Virtual reality, sitting in the comforts of our home, we can wander through the city lanes and by-lanes for Ganesh darshan. Shrimant Dagadusheth Halwai Ganapati has made virtual darshan of the deity available to the devotees. “Considering the long queues outside the pandal and the trouble of finding a parking spot, many give up the idea of visiting the pandals in person and thus we came up with this option,” says an official of the Ganesh Festival Committee.
Nilesh Jagadale, member of Bhikardas Maruti mandal says, “We make use of social messaging sites like FB and What’sApp for advertising the mandal, besides giving the live details of the events that will take place during the 10 days. We do Facebook Live for our devotees who wish to take darshan.”
It’s economical too!
Yogesh Doke of Doke and Sons says, “We will be the first one to use LED screen for showing the tableaux this year for a Ganapati mandal. We are in the final stage of cracking the deal, so we will not reveal the details. We have made a programme wherein the device will be fitted near the Ganapati idol. Through graphics and synchronisation, we will manage the entire show.”
With budgets crunching day by day, use of technology helps the mandals meet the expenses, he adds. Vishwas Joshi of Sarthak Decorators says, “The use of LED lights has reduced the expenses by 30 per cent besides also reducing the power consumption.”
Rahul Jadhav of Vishrambaug Mitra mandal, Sadashiv Peth throws more light on their use of technology. He says, “We have one touch button technology which means that the recorder, lights and movement of the figurines will be managed by a single button. This has reduced the burden upon the man-power, which we now can use for other purposes. As it is, we are already feeling the crunch of budget and man-power.”
Interestingly, though the use technology has increased in the celebrations of the festival and it has also eased work for some, many feel that we are losing out on the personal touch due to this very reason.