Jyoti Dubey is among several ardent devotees of the Mata Vaishno Devi located in Jammu’s Katra. Every year, she used to book tickets for the Vaishno Devi Yatra during Navratris but the coronavirus pandemic changed it all. This year, instead of frantically looking for the latest RT-PCR guidelines and checking Covid-proof arrangements, Jyoti opted for the safest way for her favourite deity’s live darshan. She downloaded the Mata Vaishno Devi app on her phone and within minutes, she could watch the ‘Live Pindi Darshan’ and more. Dubey is among several upward, mobile and corona conscious devotees who are switching to the online ‘darshans’ and Aarti live streaming as the Covid wave rages.
Top temples and other religious institutions are also coming to terms with a new atmosphere as the virus changes the way we live our lives. Almost all temples either have a daily cap on the numbers of devotees visiting the temple or there are strict rules of mandatory negative RT-PCR report for entry in the sanctum sanctorum. Vaishno Devi’s mobile app strategy, which is available on Google Play Store, can become new normal for those going on pilgrimage. With an average of nearly 10 million devotees paying their obeisance each year, Vaishno Devi is the second-most visited religious shrine in India. Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam is in the top position.
Tirupati shrine dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara is not only the most-visited religious site in India but it is also the most-wealthiest among all. There has been an official site for the Tirumala –www.tirumala.org – which has neatly arranged widgets on Live Darshan, online booking daily sevas etc. One can log on to https://tirupatibalaji.ap.gov.in/ for the online darshan also.
Shirdi Sai Baba also has a strong online presence. There is an official website – https://www.sai.org.in/ – where one can go for online live darshan and make online donations also. Talking of Maharashtra, Mumbai’s favourite deity ‘Siddhivinayak’ has already made Twitter debut. Ganpati ‘joined’ Twitter in August last year. With ‘blue tick’, Ganpati gives daily darshan on his Twitter feed. Clips of ‘aartis’ are also posted regularly. Similarly, Ujjain’s Shree Mahakaleshwar also post darshan on Twitter.
????गणपती बाप्पा मोरया ???? मंगलमूर्ती मोरया ???? २२/०४/२०२१ pic.twitter.com/8cZaJMXupx
— Shri Siddhivinayak Temple (@SVTMumbai) April 22, 2021
जय श्री महाकालेश्वर
दि 22-04-2021 को ज्योतिर्लिङ्ग श्री महाकालेश्वर जी का प्रातः 10:30 आरती श्रृंगार दर्शन pic.twitter.com/lUMNvBmahY
— Shree Mahakaleshwar Ujjain (@ujjainmahakal) April 22, 2021
Though some of these sites have existed even in the pre-corona days also, the pandemic has increased the awareness among the devotees. This new digital transformation will not only help the religious shrines to stay connected with their devotes but also help in reducing the chances of large congregations on the auspicious days. Some of these religious sites also provide a live feed of the deities via DTH services also. However, in a country of 133 crore and counting, a few thousand Twitter followers and some hundred app downloads are just a small minority that has gone digital. But with the current Covid trend not subsiding anytime soon, the online darshans and Twitter updates are here to stay.