Startup ePuja is helping Hindus make good on their religious commitments, by allowing them to perform daily rituals through their smartphones. With many Indians now travelling more often, digital tech is helping them to remain connected with their communities, both virtually and spiritually. We explore the insights behind how the company is helping Hindus fulfil their religious commitments in a modern world.
India's religious market is estimated to be worth more $30 billion and this has opened up the opportunity for tech brands ePuja to create a service that helps Hindu worshippers fulfil religious obligations. The site has a website and app that allows users to pay a $15 fee so that another person can perform the devotional prayer ritual of puja on their behalf. As Vasudha Narayanan, a religion professor at the University of Florida explains: "It doesn’t matter if someone is saying a prayer for you because you paid him $15 to do so. It matters that the prayer is being said, because the words themselves are believed to have the power to transform the universe."
People are increasingly utilising automated tech to help them build time into their day – and they're willing to pay to outsource tasks. This is no different for systems that help people be more religious, especially when their lifestyles remove them from the communities. For many Indians, travel is something that's starting to take up more of their work and personal lives, with more than half of Indians saying they work away on a weekly basis. But with religion playing a significant role in their day-to-day lives, remaining committed can be harder when travel is factored in. But as Professor Narayanan says, it's the thought that counts, and ePuja gives Hindus the opportunity to keep those commitments. Other platforms such as Mecca 3D enable people who wouldn't be able to visit the holy sites to experience them virtually.
Lucia Seoane-Pampin is a behavioral analyst at Canvas8, which specialises in behavioral insights and consumer research. Born and raised in Spain, she loves experiencing different cultures and emotional expressions. She studied psychology and communications in Boston and has a master’s in digital & visual media.