Sunday, January 01, 2006

Times of India: SMS Power

PUNE: Making a wish at the popular Shree Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai is now just an SMS away. The temple, famous for its celebrity devotees including Big B, has tied up with a mobile content provider for a service where people can send their prayers via SMS.

The prayers will be compiled and kept in a 'wish box' inside the temple. With close to 10,000 SMSes flooding Lord Ganesha's inbox in just a week's time, it seems this hi-tech worship is fast catching on.

Although this is the first time the temple has used SMSes, it has always been an advocate of technology to make worshipping convenient.

The temple has an official website that allows devotees to book a puja online, buy devotional items at the e-shop and view live webcasts of the temple.

According to Sanjay Bhagwat, the temple trust's CEO, "Technology has become a vital part of everyone's life and the latest service we have started is to make praying convenient for people who may not be able to visit the temple. Not everyone can come to the temple, but the faith is always there." Says Shashi Kumar, business development manager of Mauj, the telecom solutions company which is providing the service, "Though we have not publicised this service on a large scale, the response has been good.

Now, it is convenient to make a wish at any time, from anywhere. We have also been getting repetitive SMSes from people. Many want to make a wish every day, something they wouldn't have been able to do unless they went to the temple on a daily basis.

Of course, despite technological worship, there are still thousands of people who visit the temple daily and wait in serpentine queues for Ganesha's blessings. In fact, Bhagwat says, the number of devotees visiting the temple has increased over the years.

"According to data, more than a crore devotees visit the temple every year and the number is increasing. We have close to 20,000 people coming inside the temple daily, and this does not include those who take darshan from outside.

Tuesday is an auspicious day where some 40,000 devotees visit the temple," he adds. According to popular belief, any wish made at the temple is always fulfilled.

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