The Botadras have been delaying their daily aarti of Goddess Durga at their Ghatkopar residence by an hour this Navratri. They wait for their daughter Shruti, who is studying in the United Kingdom, to get back from her classes and log on to Skype for a live darshan of the ritual.
“This festival is a very important time of the year for us, and we believe that Mother Durga herself comes to stay in our house for ten days,” said Rupa Botadra, who waits for her husband to get home from work to perform the aarti. “While we usually have the aarti by 9 30pm, this year, we have pushed it to 10 30pm since Shruti gets to her room by that time and we ensure that she doesn't miss anything though she’s away from home,” she said.
Live darshan of Navratri pujas and celebrations help family members staying abroad connect with their families during the festive occasion. For Borivli resident Rajesh Khursange, a new phone has helped him connect his cousin, who stays in Sydney, to the Navratri celebrations in the city. “Since I recently got a phone that enables me to have a video conference with my sister, I have been able to show her the garba and dandiya events in the city since she loves to be a part of the festival,” said Khursange. “In fact, this time, I was also able to give her a live darshan of the Lalbaugcha Raja through my phone during the Ganesh festival last month,” he said.
Such virtual darshan helps family members stay in touch with festivals celebrated at home. “It feels good to still be part of these rituals even while being so far away from home,” said Shruti Botadra, 22, who recently left to pursue a course at the Nottingham University. “This has been a common practice in the family, and we used to also have a virtual darshan for my sister when she was in a hostel,” she said.
This year, for the first time, devotees will also get a 24-hour live darshan of Goddess Lakshmi at Mumbai’s Mahalakshmi Temple. “We started the live darshan service on Tuesday when the festival began, and we are sure people everywhere will join the celebrations at the temple, particularly during the aartis,” said B Valavalkar, assistant manager of the charitable trust.
The website for live darshan is www.mahalakshmitemplemumbai.com