Kolkata, Oct 26: As India is rapidly growing as a technically advanced nation the way our festivals (a testimony of our five thousand year old civilisation) are celebrated, has also witnessed a revolution.
Not being satisfied with merely emulating the age-old customs, traditions and rituals followed by their forefathers, the tech-savvy Gen Y of today are exploring newer ways and means of greeting their loved ones spread across the globe and affirming their deep-rooted ties to their collective subconscious. Cashing in on this new-found confidence and pride in our innumerable festivals, a plethora of web portals, e-domains and social networking sites have emerged on the world wide web, which promise to offer revellers and devotees a virtual experience as close to the real world as possible.
With the entire country being decked up like a bride to welcome Diwali, the greatest festival of the Hindus, numerous e-portals have come up to facilitate presenting gifts to loved ones in any corner of the globe just at the click of a mouse.
''Earlier, internet shopping was not so popular in India.
However, with the advent of the cyber revolution and almost every middle class home having access to the worldwide web, people are now getting more and more used to buying gifts online and presenting them to their friends and relatives in the country as well as abroad,'' Managing Director of 'diwalimela.com' Manan Sharma told the sources.
''Increase in computer literacy has made online shopping portals a lucrative prospect, especially just before big festivals like Diwali, which has transgressed from being just a religious occasion to a huge commercial affair,'' he added.
At the same time, Bengal was gearing up to worship Goddess Kali.
The city of Kolkata or Kalikata had also derived its name from 'Kalikshetra' or 'Ground of Goddess Kali'.
A website also promises to offer pujas to Goddess Kali at her acclaimed shrines of Kalighat, Dakshineshwar, Tarapith and Kamakhya on behalf of the devotee, without his/her requiring to be physically present at the site. Its proprietors claimed of informing the devotees of the exact date and time of offering the pujas at the respective temples so that the devotee too could worship the goddess at his/her residence simultaneously.
The grand extravaganza of the recently concluded Durga Puja, the greatest festival of the Bengalis, has found apt expression in creative blogs, as the youth of today are now no longer ashamed to wear their religious sentiments and spiritual beliefs on their sleeve.
Photographs of Durga Puja celebrations as well as their detailed programme schedules in places as far apart as Bahrain, Cyprus, Finland, Seychelles, South Korea and Uganda had filled the electronic world as the expatriates proudly display their cultural roots and Indian connections. The diaspora, with high disposable incomes, have even moved a step forward than their cousins in their homeland and can boast of bringing in Bollywood celebrities, playback singers, renowned Odissi and Bharatnatyam dancers to inaugurate and perform in their pujas.
In this way, the NRIs have very well been able to build a home away from home and foster a feeling of solidarity millions of miles away from their motherland.
Some of the 'Sarbojanin Durgotsab Committees' had also succeeded in carrying on their celebrations unhindered long years, for instance, the Pnyrheol Community Centre at South Wales, UK, which reached its 36th year in 2008, Bengali Cultural Association of London (34th year), Bangiya Sanskritik Parishad, Glasgow, Scotland (28th year), Frankfurt Adi Sarbojanin Puja Samiti (27th year) and Paris Sammilani (22nd year).
Websites have now come up with innovative mechanisms, for instance ''e-puja'', wherein devotees can offer flowers, light lamps, play the 'dhaak' and do 'aarti' through an interactive presentation.
Speaking on the various kinds of services offered by his website, Mr Sukanta Chatterjee of 'bangalinet.com' told UNI, ''For the first time our website has started this innovative concept of 'e-puja'. The enthusiasts can now offer pujas to various gods and goddesses and also play the 'dhaak' in an interactive format. It simulates the sound of the drums and cymbals in a very realistic manner. Besides, one can light the customary 14 diyas on the occasion of Diwali, believed to bring in wealth and prosperity.
''These concepts have gained immense popularity, especially during the festive season. On the day of Mahalaya alone, our website registered more than 10,000 hits. The principle aim behind this idea was to facilitate the NRIs and people staying away from home a festive atmosphere as close to their native place as possible.
However, now these tools have become a rage among the indigenous people too,'' he added.