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Pushkaram rituals go online

HYDERABAD: If you are busy and can't make it to river Godavari for the Pushkarams, just relax and leave the religious task to computer-savvy priests. The Pushkaram rituals this time have gone hi-tech, with scores of priests in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh offering online services to the devotees.

Some enterprising priests are also offering Pushkaram services through Skype, particularly to non-resident Indians (NRI). Either the priests will guide them in performing some of the rituals or alternatively, they will perform the rituals at the river on their behalf while they sit back and watch the proceedings online. What's more, the prasadam will be delivered by post. The devotees will also get a video record of the ritual.

Besides the 'in absentia' services for the NRIs and busy devotees, the priests will also assist the pilgrims in performing the rituals at the bathing ghats. All that one has to do is to register online and visit the bathing ghat in the town of their choice at the appointed day and time. The priest will receive the pilgrim and take care of the ritual part.

"This is the first time that the Godavari Pushkaram services are being offered online. The response has been tremendous. We have received hundreds of enquiries from AP, Telangana and other parts of the country. Many NRIs prefer Skype services as they can watch the rituals being performed live. We collect only the charges fixed by the state government or the local priests' association," said a priest Uma Durga Prasad, who runs his online services through

Enquiries revealed that the priests charge between Rs 300 and Rs 5,000 for various rituals, the higher amount being for rituals that last up to two hours. For 'Pindapradanam' (offering to the forefathers), the priests collect Rs 3,000 for 'online' and 'live' services.

A young priest, P Ravi Kumar Sharma, who runs, told TOI that a majority of the devotees in Telangana prefer Basara for the Pushkaram rituals. Bhadrachalam in Khammam district is also in high demand in the new state where the Pushkaram is being held for the first time. In case of AP, places like Rajahmundry-Kovvur, Kotilingala and Antarvedi are the most sought after. One can conduct any kind of ritual online by interacting with well-trained Vedic pundits, adds Ravi Kumar Sarma.

"We do not demand pre-payment in case a devotee wants to visit the bathing ghat of his choice for the rituals. Only in the case of devotees who want the rituals to be performed in absentia, we request them to deposit money in advance so that we can buy the material required for the pooja," says V Srikant of

Both the state governments have also set up exclusive websites for the Godavari Pushkarams to provide the much-needed information to the pilgrims, particularly those visiting from other states. The 12-day river festival is scheduled to begin on July 14.
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