Work is worship: Then, working to make worship a pleasure must be a Sacred Service. In our god-fearing society with many religions and many gods, pujas are a way of daily life. Many homes in India receive their packet of fresh flower petals and mogra flowers for the daily morning puja just like they receive their morning newspaper. There is little doubt
that the puja business in India is humongous and offers an opportunity for business to cater to all kinds of lifestyles. Several young entrepreneurs in this business today have not only realized the huge potential of this market but found that growth rates up to 60% can prove to be an answer to all their prayers!
Prakash Mundhra from Mumbai, as reported in Livemint, converted a ‘college idea’ with a capital of `6 lakh into a `5 crore revenue business reported to be growing at 60% per
annum. His company — Sacred Moments — founded in 2006 was the first to come up with the concept of packaged Puja Kits. “I realized that to arrange festive puja items can be cumbersome, especially when you are a nuclear family and find yourself lost,” Mundhra is reported to have said. With pre-packaged puja kits for different kinds of puja, the idea is to make performing a puja more convenient, especially for nuclear family youngsters living abroad or away from their elders.
A similar experience of divine inspiration and business growth is reported by Rajshree Kukreti in Business Today. A management student from Symbiosis started making Diwali puja kits in 2006 with a start-up quantity of just 200 which soon grew to a demand for 23,500 and now has a range of 15 types of kits in his inventory. The range includes Holi, Diwali, Ganesh Chathurthi, Griha Parvesh and even Car Puja kits. He is now reported to be working on kits for rituals of different religions.
The universality of the demand for such kits is underscored by the reported experience
of another such spiritual entrepreneur — Hanish Pherwani of Okassionz. Not only does he offer ready-made Diwali Puja, Vehicle Puja, Grih Parvesh, Karva Chauth, Ugadi, Pongal, Ganesh Chathurthi kits but also Muslim Namaz and Christian Prayer kits as well other ethnic choices like Rangoli Kit — to suit every faith and ethnicity. As reported in Yourstory.com, Hanish says, “Readymade puja kits have made life much easier for people who are unaware of the puja items required to perform a ritual correctly. It is also an elegant and ethnic form of gifting to clients and relatives in festivals. People can easily conduct a puja with the kit which contains everything from agarbatti to ghee, deepak, clove, cardamom, sindoor and all 32 items required for the puja in mind, labelled and packed neatly with high quality material. The kit also contains Puja Vidhi on how to perform the puja so that the hapless worshipper can now have instructions on how to do things the right way.”
The booming demand for high quality puja materials packaged conveniently is not just restricted to the domestic market. Mundhra’s Sacred Moments is reported to have experienced an export growth of 200% a year constituting up to a third of their total sales. The Indian diaspora overseas, particularly in the US, UK and Canada saw Hindu puja kits being stocked even at Walmart. The online internet sales business throws up several sites devoted to the supply of puja kits, ‘pure prasadam’ and packaged Gangajal for nostalgia driven Indians living in far flung places across the world.
Designing packaging for the Supreme Divine can indeed be a self-fulfilling moment as many seem to have already discovered. The passion for creating something truly innovative and devotional is manifested in the diversity and creativity of puja accessory products that can be found at the stalls and with pavement vendors outside all Indian religious places. A visit to the sacred temple retreats in the mountains or the riverside ghats reveals just how inventively ‘spiritual souvenirs’ such as Ganga Jal or Prasadam or other talisman lockets, beads and bracelets can be offered for the convenience of visiting pilgrims.
This fervour to create truly devotional packaging is not restricted to professional designers but finds expression across the depth and width of the packaging industry – not only with mould-makers, printers and material convertors, but also artists, craftsmen and small machine makers. Packaging of incense and dhoop cones, as well as aroma-therapy and meditation accessories, have already achieved a degree of market sophistry and branding that could compete with any contemporary lifestyle consumer product.
Contemporary packaging has no doubt helped to make reaching the sacred divine more convenient for everyone. The time is perhaps not far when we may expect to rush across to the neighbourhood ‘drive-in’ window to pick up a puja-on-the-go package for some quick spiritual upliftment. We can surely expect the packaging industry to stand by its Sacred Mission to deliver always better, new, improved puja products. After all, even if you only live twice – you may want to learn to pray properly at least once!
The article was first published in the January 2014 issue of Packaging South Asia.