They are exploring ways to overcome stress

The exploration of spirituality is attracting readers. Despite a tough climate for book sales, religious titles are steadily growing in popularity. Most of the stalls of Telugu publishers have prominently displayed the spiritual books in the 24th Vijayawada Book Fair in the city.

The buyers are mostly high school and college students, young professionals and homemakers - in the age-group of 17 to 35. The visitors are, generally, looking for self-help guides, meditation techniques, Indian philosophies, mythologies and puranas.

Bhagawadgita, Ramcharitmanas, complete works of Swami Vivekananda, Valmiki Ramayanam, Suondarya Lahari, Saibaba Charitra, Vrata Kalpa, numerology, palmistry are a few books to mention.

Gorakhpur-based Gita Press is one of the oldest publishers of religious books in India, substantiates the trend. The publishers have stacked a wide range of titles, including Bhagavad Gita, Ramcharitmanas and Bhakt Charit, the three most popular titles.

The younger generation is looking for religious texts and books on meditation etc to overcome the stress. The spiritual books are filling a huge void at a time when the people are getting more materialistic, explains 50-year S. Narasimha Rao, who is looking for titles in meditation for his son.

But, there septuagenarians like Somayajulu Sarma feel that the youth reads all kinds of fiction and academics. But, hardly anyone is interested in their own religion and philosophy. Even if they were looking for such titles, it was solely for solace, he says.

Spurred by growing demand, the publishers and writers are coming up with newer titles very often. The quality is being conveniently ignored.

The language in spiritual books is awfully low, feels Chandramouli of Sivakameswari book stall.

The onus lies on both publishers and writers to maintain quality standards as the spiritual books mould the character of a person reading the book, he adds.

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