30 June 2009

Online puja

I was the first to arrive at the post office. The employees were shuffling into the office with their metal tiffin boxes in one hand and the morning newspaper in the other. They milled around behind the counter, chatting, shifting packages and piles of mail. A man was busy combing his hair. Another was reading the paper. As usual they were completely oblivious to the first customer of the day and made no effort to acknowledge my presence.

At last a woman shuffled over to the counter and turned on her computer. Without looking at me, she lifted up her right hand, rounding her fingers and bringing her fingertips together in that Indian sign language which means: “Just 5 minutes.”

I watched as she busied herself in front of the computer. She closed her eyes. Her lips started to move. Is she praying to her computer? I wondered. Curious, I moved to the side of the counter and picked up a money order form. At the same time, I glanced toward her computer. I didn’t need to try to be so discreet, but I felt like I was an intruder in this morning ritual.

On the computer screen was an image of Ganesh, the elephant god. This devout post office employee was starting her workday by paying her respects to Lord Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. With a click of her mouse, flowers started to shower down on Ganesh. With another click, she lit a virtual stick of incense, a trail of smoke drifted upwards. Another click set off a brass bell.

I was intrigued. I didn’t know there was an ‘online’ version of a puja. When I got home I looked up ‘online puja’ on the net and sure enough I found what I was looking for.

On this website you can choose your favourite deity and go through all the puja rituals. You can ring the brass bell, light incense, draw a ‘tilak’ on the god’s forehead, move the arati lamp around, and shower the god with flowers! There’s also the suitable sloka for the god in question displayed in Sanskrit as well as a description of the god.

If you’re stuck in the office and can’t make it to the temple, no problem. Just do an online puja to your favourite god and ask for his or her help to close that important deal!


Roma said...

Yes, actually there are several sites that provide you 'Darshan' or a glimpse of the idol for a small fee. This is specially popular with the famous Temples in India.

Saatvika said...

Wow... I didn't know about this either!

Shubha said...

There is also the long distance pooja.
We send money to the temple in San Francisco and they conduct the pooja on our behalf and send us virtual prasad!!
Only in Hunduism..!

Anonymous said...

They do the same thing with Catholics - you send in a prayer card with money and somewhere in the world the envelope gets passed around and usually nuns pray for whatever you requested AND it's being outsourced to India. Read this article - I had a chuckle - no ill will intended. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/13/world/short-on-priests-us-catholics-outsource-prayers-to-indian-clergy.html