Legend has it that execs of a famous Japanese watch maker were rather exasperated on a business visit to the Middle East because of the frequent interruptions they encountered on account of the prayers. What compounded the situation for them was the fact that there seemed to be a lot of confusion about the exact time of the prayers as well. To make a long story short it turns out a young exec decided to modify an existing model so it could save exact prayer timings for all five times. The watch turned out to be a major success when it was launched in the market.

What it also proved was spirituality sells! In India, Sprituality, is the ‘D’ in the ABCD of content – Astrology, Bollywood, Cricket and Devotion. Bharti Airtel has launched the value added service “Live Aarti”, that enables subscribers to listen to live prayers from a few selected shrines across the country.

Launched on the 21st of April, the service currently includes prayers and sermons from Tirupati Balaji temple, Sidhi Vinayak temple,the shrine of Shri Sai Baba from Shirdi and Gurdwara Bangla Sahib for now, with plans afoot to include other prominent places of worship as well. But in an age of instant nirvana, spiritual fulfillment doesn’t come for free with subscribers having to pay a one time fee of Rs 5 and a daily fee of Rs 2 per shrine.

Now it’s not like devotional content is new: we came across a presentation online from Reliance Communications, that pitched the following to the Siddhivinayak temple:

— Mobile Darshan : Temple tour videos, daily aarti videos / audios, deity wallpapers, ring tones etc.
— Temple announcements: RWorld to dissipate information related to temples, services etc. Eg Bhramotsav schedule
— Info for pilgrims: Accommodation, directions, timings of services etc.
— Puja requests : Temples perform Puja & send confirmatory letters
— Send Prayers: Prayers, wishes to deities. Eg Prayer box in Siddhivinayak by Mauj

What marks Airtels service as different from already existing devotional infotainment is the fact that it is live.

Services from other telecom operators include:

— Aircel: devotional songs like Supbrapatham, Bhajans, Amman Songs, Gayathri & Gurbani.
— Loop: Mantras, Panchang
— Spice: Gurbaani and Art of Living sermons
— STel: Prayers and Devotional songs
— Vodafone: Bible on sms, Pope’s qoutes,Bhakti Sagar, Gurbaani, Osho’s discourses, Devotional sms alerts
— RCOM: Prayer Alarm, Geeta Saar, Gurbaani etc.
— Tata Docomo: Devotional services