The Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic has unleashed a grave economic crisis across the world. India has been no different. Widespread sections of the population have been affected by the crisis as is evident by the scenes of the suffering of migrants that have been observed ever since the enforcement of the lockdown. Subsequently, the central government and various state governments have jumped in to alleviate the misery of the affected people.
Amidst such a crisis, a section of the population that has been hit gravely but has not received the attention it deserved is the community of Hindu priests. Due to the lockdown, pujas that are officiated by priests at the homes of individuals, as well as community pujas have stopped completely and as a consequence, the priests, for whom such puja is often the only source of their livelihood, find themselves at a time of great hardships. It is under these circumstances that some concerned individuals have undertaken a venture to ensure that the well-being of priests is not compromised.
oPandit is a Mumbai based company that also runs its operation in Thane and Pune. The company arranges Dharmic Vidhis as requested by their clients at their homes. Once a person books a ritual to be performed at their place, the company takes care of all the arrangements needed for that specific ritual. They provide the entire Vidhi “sahitya” and “samagri” along with a hassle-free conduct of the Vidhi from expert Pandits. More than 500 Pandits, from all the four Vedas, Rgveda, Yajurveda, Saamveda and Atharvaveda, are part of the initiative.
Now, as such rituals at homes and public places come to a complete halt, oPandit has decided to raise finances for Pandits who are suffering due to the lockdown. Using a form available on razorpay, a person can make a payment of any sum between Rs. 501/- and Rs. 50,000. In turn, a priest would perform a vidhi (ritual) for the family. The company requests individuals to send their name, gotra and Kuldevi to a number provided by oPandit along with the transaction details. Consequently, the vidhi will be performed as per the information provided to secure the blessings of the Gods.
The personal contact numbers of the Pandits will not be shared with any user personally. The Daan would be handed over to the Pandit within seven working days. The individual will be informed once the daan has been transferred to the Pandit. oPandit itself does not charge any fees for felicitating the interaction between the Pandit and the devotee. The amount that is paid by the individual for the vidhi is transferred in its entirety to the Pandit.
OpIndia got in touch with Mrudula Barve, the director of oPandit, who told us that the organisation began its operations in 2015 and is on its fifth year of its operations. Under normal circumstances, oPandit helps families find a priest according to their own requirements. Following the demonetisation move by Narendra Modi, the organisation had moved towards conducting their all financial transactions online. Consequently, bank accounts of the Pandits registered with them were recorded. This mechanism is coming handy during the current crisis.
We were told that during this phase, the Pandits were booked on various auspicious dates but due to the lockdown, these rituals could not be performed and have been put on hold as of now. As the days went on, the Pandits also started suffering a crunch in their finances at which point a fundraising campaign was decided upon. Thus, the initiative was launched on the 8th of May. So far, the campaign has generated around Rs. 1.80 lakhs which is being distributed among Pandits associated with the organisation. Rs. 1 lakh has already been dispersed.
Mrudula Barve told us, “There are many Pandits who are saying ‘we do not need anything right now, so do not give us anything but to those who need it’. See, no one has asked any money from us. They are very Swabhimani, they will go hungry but they will not ask. But it does not always have to be said, I know they are facing problems, so should I wait till they ask me for help? Should I wait till they are forced to stoop down? We should act before that happens, right?”
Mrudula Barve told us that the organisation also supports Ved Pathshalas. Concerned individuals who wish to contribute to oPandit’s effort to support Pandits during the lockdown can do the same by going to this link.
oPandit is the brand of Jadzia Solutions Pvt. Ltd, a company promoted by Mrudula Barve and Shekhar Malik. Mrudula is a computer engineer from Mumbai University and has more than 8+ years of experience across IT Project management and Analytics. Shekhar is a B.Tech (ECE)+MBA from IIT Powai having 9+ years of experience across Project Finance, Corporate Banking, Investment Banking & Technology outsourcing.