NRIs, foreigners seek virtual blessings

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Global recession has proved good for Ganesha! Non-resident Indians and even other foreigners are making a virtual rush this season to seek the blessings of this Remover of Obstacles through pujas and homams and rituals such as breaking of coconuts.

Most online astrology sites are already booked to the brim with orders for Ganesh pujas, homams and 108 coconut breaking offerings on Chaturthi day. Requests are pouring in from as far as Africa, Brazil, Holland, Denmark, New Zealand, the US, Singapore, and Malaysia.

“Our order book for performing special pujas and homams have doubled this year,” confirms Maya Benkovich, CEO of Astroved.com. “This year, we have about 2,000 requests for our three-day package on idol puja from September 17 to 19, followed by immersion,” she says. The package, priced at
Rs2,700 is a huge hit.

“This year has been a very tough for us with all this hue and cry about outsourcing and downsizing. So I hope that there will be some relief when a proper homam is performed in the name of my husband and his star,” hopes Lakshmi Vaidhyanathan, of New Jersey.

The coconut breaking ritual that is usually done in Ganesh temples has also found a lot of takers. “According to our order books, we will have to break 17,000 coconuts and may end up needing special permission for this,” says Benkovich.

This spike in puja requests is a sign of insecurity, said Dr Sathiyanathan, former director of the Institute of Mental Health, adding that there is only trading with God these days with most people worshipping for their wants.

“When there is a phase of insecurity as there is now, people bank on the superpower and in the case of NRIs they want to connect with their native land and deity for miracles,” he says. “This is nothing but being ritualistic and materialistic,” he says.

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