Variety

From virtual worship to door delivery of prasad: Start-ups link devout to their deities

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on October 22, 2020 Published on October 21, 2020

Tathastulive’s ‘package’ of prasad and other puja items

The faithful can ‘visit’ their favourite gods, including Lord Rama at Ayodhya

It’s the auspicious time of year when devotees throng temples in their thousands. But with Covid-19 casting a cloud over Navaratri and Diwali, it has been tough for worshippers to do their usual temple rounds.

But if the workplace can find a way to keep going, why not temples? Virtual worship has become a growing business with online darshans picking up.

It’s also leading to tech start-ups entering the fray and coming up with innovative solutions.

Take Ahmedabad-based Tathastulive, a temple aggregator platform that launched last week and allows devotees to make offerings remotely to deities. It even facilitates doorstep delivery of the prasad.

Bootstrapped by entrepreneurs Jignesh Vasavada and Nishith Vasavada, Tathastulive has about 31 temples across the country on its platform, including the Ayodhya Ram temple.

 

“Due to Covid-19, a lot of people were refraining from visiting temples. So, we decided to create a platform whereby they could make their offerings online,” says Vasavada.

Vendor coordination

To make sure the holy prasad reaches the devotee’s doorstep, they have coordinated with the temple authorities and the prasad vendors, he adds.

Since its launch last week, the platform has seen about 15 transactions daily with devotees from Delhi, Bengaluru and other cities making virtual offerings to their favourite deities. The prasad reaches the devotees in 3-5 days.

Currently, the offerings are set at a standard rate of ₹251 per order. The devotees get a complete prasad box.

For example, a box from Ayodhya's Ram Temple would include not only a sweet, but a chunari, a photo of Lord Rama , a prayer book, a sacred raksha thread, a Lakshmi coin, a panchang, and a welcome card.

Going forward, Vasavada says, the company will expand its services to include donations, offer live darshan, puja and hawan. Revenues come from the fixed token service charges.

Kerala’s line-up

In Kerala, online platform Devaayanam, which connects devotees with over 50 temples in the State, has seen a 10-15 times jump in online puja offerings during the pandemic. Founder Sajeev Manayangath says he expects a surge during the last three days of Navaratri.

Devaayanam, which has a SaaS service model, does not offer prasad delivery or streaming services (temples in Kerala rarely allow cameras inside the shrine).

However, devotees can take curated puja packages ranging from simple pushpanjali to naga puja, says Manayangath.

With inputs from Chitra Narayanan

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Published on October 21, 2020
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