Hindu temples in Australia adopt to digital delivery in the time of coronavirus

Melbourne, April 1: As we all adjust to the new norms of life in 2020 influenced by the lockdowns and social-distancing to address the global challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Sanstha (BAPS Hindu temples across Australia are rolling-out technology-led approaches to provide spiritual and social solace to devotees and well-wishers.

After suspending all local spiritual and social activities across its 3,850 centres worldwide, including Australian metropolitan and regional centres, devotees started participating in the novel online programs since Sunday, 15 March, a press release said.

On Sunday, 15 March 2020, BAPS Australia hosted its first weekly assembly on the digital delivery platform from it’s Mandir located in Sydney to bring together about 4,400 households across Australia for a 2 hours live program conducted in multilingual mode filled with devotional songs (kirtans), spiritual guidance by learned Hindu Sadhus and recorded blessings from BAPS spiritual leader His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj.

The assembly also contained a special prayer session for restoring our lives soon by containing and resolving the coronavirus situation globally.

It’s been only a couple of weeks since life in Australia suddenly shifted to new norms of less in-person interactions in social and work environments. In this unprecedented global challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic we notice that the governments, business leaders, community groups, volunteering organisations and businesses are adjusting to continue the life during the lockdowns and social-distancing, the release said.

The closures and isolation across the world pose a major challenge for all ages in terms of how to stay connected and continue the spiritual practice. BAPS Mandirs have regularly hosted multiple age group based activities and assemblies in multiple languages on weekly and fortnightly basis across 7 Australian metropolitan cities and around 50 other suburban and regional centres. These weekly assemblies provide the continuity and inspire the digital attendees with the values such as hope, responsible behaviour, honesty and integrity, care and compassion, the release added.

Kunal Patel a volunteer from Sydney states, “As a practising Hindu, it was very important for me and my young family to ensure that we are able to still receive our weekly spiritual nourishment through the weekly assembly even with social distancing measures in place. The Sadhus and volunteers in the short span of time delivered on the weekly assembly without us leaving the comforts of our own home”.

BAPS Australia also runs its regular volunteer catch up meetings through messaging platforms and online conference systems to continue the momentum in its socio-spiritual activities. The availability of low-cost digital delivery platforms are enabling community organisations such as BAPS to provide the social and spiritual support to all age groups in challenging times.

(Press release)