Offering prayers the Internet way
The Internet bug has caught one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in India - the Kashi-Vishwanath temple in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. Devotees can now offer prayers at the temple from their homes through a website created by the temple committee.
"You need not undertake a long tedious journey to Varanasi to seek the blessings of Lord Vishwanath. It would now be possible for devotees sitting even thousands of miles away to offer prayers before the deity with just a click of the mouse," Varanasi Divisional Commissioner Nitin Gokaran told IANS.
Gokaran formally inaugurated the website with the prayer facility on Wednesday.
While devotees are excited about the virtual prayers, traditional Varanasi priests are sore. Calling it "unfair", Ram Chandra Shukla, a senior priest, said: "This is going to hit all of us hard. Our families will suffer.
"I don't think one can get the same satisfaction of performing puja before a computer screen as one gets before the real god. After all, this type of puja would not conform to the traditional Vedic tenets," he added.
Temple official Radhe Shyam Pathak however said: "This is going to bring to an end the virtual extortion by some priests, who often force devotees to shell out all that they have in the name of god."