It is that time of the year when the whole of India joins in the birthday celebrations of Lord Ganesha, the God of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. Beginning on Ganesh Chaturthi, the 10-day long birthday celebrations of the lord culminates in a farewell via an idol immersion that sees lakhs of devotees bidding their adieus in all parts of the world.
Decorated and embellished, the Ganesha idols attract a thousand devotees every hour at the various pandals across the country, leading to jampacked roads and increased security concerns. While this is good for the pandal business, it could also serve as a deterrent for the elderly. When Pune-based software professional, Saurabh Mukhekar’s elderly relatives refused to venture outside fearing their safety, his techy mind stumbled upon a thought – “Why not create a platform where the many internet freaks can share their pics/videos of Ganesha in a centralized location, so people can watch everything from their home?”
The thought came into existence through “Ganpati Darshan” – a website designed to celebrate Ganesh Utsav 2013 using technology and social media. As a one man army, Saurabh worked on a prototype and design to build the site last year on a small scale, but plans to make it big this year, adding user friendly functionality enabling people to explore more avatars of Lord Ganesh from around the globe.
What can you do at Ganpati Darshan?
You can upload pictures/videos of your Ganpati Bappa through 3 simple steps. Just navigate to the ‘Upload your story’ section. Login with your YouTube account (It’s mandatory to have a YouTube account beforehand) and allow permission to GanpatiDarshan app to access your YouTube data. After a successful authentication, you can upload your videos through the form.
Uploading videos goes through a 2-way authentication process, to avoid exploitation of the platform and harmful religious content. The videos will pass through a moderation team and only after a successful approval will pass through the YouTube approval process.
In addition to this, you can also share your existing videos of Ganesh Utsavs from last year.
You can also watch a live stream of Ganpati images uploaded on Instagram with hashtag #ganpati or #ganpatibappa. The feature – aptly named Ganestragram – has also been livestreamed on the website as well as their Facebook page. Using the Instagram API, images with the said hashtags #Ganpati and #ganpatibappa are pulled up and automatically posted on the Facebook timeline.
You can also perform a virtual pooja complete with aarti and lights. The site houses festival videos from around the world, and has also enabled live video broadcasting from various famous pandals like Dagduseth and Lalbag.
Saurabh shared that they are receiving a good response from India and around the globe including USA, Canada, Japan and Africa. But, as with all user-generated content sites’ challenges, the Ganpati Darshan team too is finding it tough to moderate the entries. While the two-way authentication process takes care of video uploads, it is a manual moderation process entirely for the image uploads. A team of three – Surbhi Dongre, Jeet Dholakia and Saurabh himself tackle the moderation bit for the Facebook page, which has autoposted many non-Ganesha images too!
Nonetheless, this is a super cool way to worship your favourite god virtually and visit the Ganesh festivals from all over the globe. With live Instagram feed on the site and Facebook page and an increasing adoption of smartphones, Ganpati Darshan might well be on its way to become the ‘go to’ destination during Ganesh Utsav.