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Updated: March 9, 2014 00:48 IST
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Catching up with technology

    Vasudha Venugopal
    R. Srikanth
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Priest from Mylapore conducts ‘homam’ and officiates a wedding in a community hall in London, ALL THANKS TO THE INTERNET

This January, when London-based Adithya Ramsubban, a 29-year-old chartered accountant from Chennai, decided to marry his college sweetheart in a community hall there, the ceremony was conducted by a ‘Skype vadhiyar’ beamed from Mylapore via the Internet.

“My parents insisted all Vedic rituals be performed. They also wanted a ‘sarpa shanthi homam’ done before that and they trusted only our family priest to do it,” says Adithya. “The video grab of the ‘vadhiyar’ performing the rituals in Mylapore was shown on a screen at the wedding hall. It kept flickering a bit because of the ‘homam’ fire but in the end, it was all fine.”

It is no surprise the Internet has changed the idea of romance for couples across the world, and now many are making use of technology to make their wedding day even more special. Live streaming and webcast of weddings for friends and relatives who could not make it the event is getting common among young techies here, and priests too seem to be catching up.

K.B. Gopalakrishnan, a city-based priest, provides horoscope reading services over Skype. “All pujas, including those for ‘grahapravesham’, engagements and ‘homams’, are done over Skype. We live-stream the proceedings, and after the ceremony, upload the photos on Flickr,” says the tech-savy priest whose English-speaking skills and fluency in Sanskrit have earned him customers in various countries, including Kenya and Nairobi.

There are other reasons too, many legally- and emotionally-binding, for technological intervention in weddings. When Rohini Krishnakumar, a PhD. student at University of Madras, decided to marry her British fiancé Sean Murtagh, it brought much delight to her family and friends.

“Skype allowed the wedding, conducted in Chennai, to be broadcast to family and friends in London — where the marriage was registered. Also, my mother, who is a cancer patient, was able to witness the whole ceremony from her recovery centre in Thiruvannamalai.”

The typical representation of a Chennaiite is of a studious person, who loves in equal measure his filter coffee and books. It is tempting to think the city’s lending libraries do a flourishing business.

However, owners of lending libraries present a different picture; they make huge investments but incur heavy losses at times.

K. Sethuraman, proprietor of Reader’s Club, who quit his cushy office job to launch an online lending library, rues that people, who normally spend huge amounts on entertainment, often turn stingy when it comes to buying books.

Another famous lending library proprietor, V. Sridhar, who runs ‘Book World Library,’ echoes similar sentiments. Having invested about Rs. 8-9 lakh per library, the return on investments is not that great, he says.

The heavy capital investment on books, their maintenance and other recurring expenditures have made the business risky. The membership in all four branches of his library remains stagnant at 7,000.

P. Ashok, an avid book reader, says though there is nothing like leafing through a book, the availability of free books and comics online is a major cause for lending libraries losing some of their sheen.

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