India File

Selling Puja for a Shubh start

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on April 11, 2016

Saumya Vardhan,Founder, Shubhpuja

The startup offers customised ritual services, offline and online

It was a painful experience that led Saumya Vardhan to set up Shubhpuja. “A friend’s father passed away in Delhi. As most of her relatives were living abroad, it was disturbing to see that there was no help available to the grieving family to arrange rituals,” recounts Vardhan.

This prompted the London-based former consultant in KMPG and EY to move back to India and start Shubhpuja in December 2013. She did detailed research on Hindu vedic texts and got in touch with qualified professionals to build a database of ‘genuine and educated’ priests, astrologers, numerologists and vaastu consultants who are proficient in English.

Positioned as a e-commerce platform, Shubhpuja works like a marketplace to offer customised puja and astrological consultation packages. So just as one buys shoes or clothes on an e-commerce portal, one can buy various puja packages that will either be conducted offline, or online.

“Weddings are not just about the wedding day. Rituals start from matching of horoscopes to conducting religious ceremonies for various “ doshas” found in the kundalis. Besides, given the cultural diversity of India, traditions differ,” says Vardhan

Online rituals

Customers of Shubhpuja can book a package by buying it online or over the phone. Depending on the requirement of the consumer, Shubhpuja, connects the customer with the appropriate pandit/astrologer, who hail from Benares, Ujjain, Haridwar and other parts of the country. The professionals get the fee from Shubhpuja based on the consultation assignment. The company also has some of the pandits on its payroll. To know her business better, Vardhan got trained to be a qualified astrologer. “I am next studying Vastu shastra and numerology so I can offer accurate services to our clients,” she adds.

While matrimonial and wedding related services contribute the chunk of Shubhpuja’s revenues, the company also offers various ‘diagnostics’ pujas for health problems, career prospects as well as to companies, including a package for startups looking for an auspicious beginning.

“We started making profits from the fourth month of operations. I put in my own personal savings to fund this venture. We will look at raising funds in the future. We want to expand to international geographies,” says the founder. Shubhpuja has set up an offline centre in New Delhi, where the pujas are conducted. Clients can either attend these pujas or can see them online. “These days there are many preachers who take advantage of the gullible public especially the youth. I am trying to bridge the gap between modern lifestyles and traditional rituals,” Vardhan says.

The start-up has its own set of challenges, including access to genuine qualified professionals and changing people’s mindset about buying puja services online.

“We would like to organise destination weddings for couples who want to get married as per Indian Vedic traditions. Already we are getting requests for conducting weddings with Vedic rituals and translating it in various languages so everyone can understand,” adds Vardhan. Meanwhile, Vardhan is also focussing on building another portal that will focus on religious ceremonies done in the event of death or for bereavement.

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Published on April 11, 2016
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