Times of India

Young professionals may be moving to greener pastures in search of better career opportunities but they aren’t in the mood to leave behind their tradition. To help them along, the path to divine solace is now taking a detour through the virtual world.Take the case of software professional Deepali Kotwal, who relocated to Pune earlier this year. On the occasion of Gudi Padwa, when she wanted to perform a puja at her home, getting a reliable purohit proved to be a daunting task. Arranging for puja-related nitty-gritty was another chore Kotwal hoped to avoid since she was unfamiliar with the local market.

While friends’ referrals and even an online search did not resolve her problem, Kotwal finally decided to connect with one of the many mobile apps and website-based aggregators of puja-related services. The aggregator not only helped arrange for the purohit to reach her home in Nigdi, but also ensured that he arrived with all puja-related material in tow.

In the last year, mobile applications and websites that are focused on puja-related services have mushroomed all over the country . From arranging a purohit to procuring puja-related essentials or sourcing flowers used in traditional pujas and all other neces sary paraphernalia ­aggregators ensure everything is only a click of a button away . They offer the convenience of conducting a variety of pujas, including those from birth to death.

Most of the services, including those that have a presence in multiple cities, are start-ups conceptualised by the young. One such entrepreneur is Pune-based Sugosh Sowale, who, in 2014, founded MuhurtMaza -a websiteand app-based service available in eight cities with over 140 different pujas, including specialised region-specific ones, conducted in the local language.

For Sowale the business model evolved from his own experience. “For almost a year and a half after I moved to Pune from my hometown, I could not perform any puja at my home as I did not know any purohit here. My family believes in doing certain rituals at the right muhurt and in a traditional manner. That is how I developed the idea of the website. MuhurtMaza now offers the services of 300+ experienced and well-versed purohits, apart from educating customers about auspicious dates, ti ming and the significance of performing a particular puja.“

The entire process is automated. Even the dakshina paid to the purohit is standardised and can be paid online, so there is no risk of being fleeced in the name of faith, says Sowale. The company is in the process of connecting temples around the country to offer devotees a chance to perform a puja at a place of their choice.

According to Yogesh Jadhav , director of Mumbai-based aggregator WhereMyPandit, a panel of trustworthy purohits is critical for the business. “The customer must be confident about the ability of the purohit to perform the puja. To ensure this, we consult senior faculty and members of Varanasi’s Sampurnanand Sanskrit Vishwavidyala. All purohits enrolled with us have undergone a background check and have been issued ID cards,“ he adds.

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