"The Dynamos of progress"
he advent of the world wide web and a brilliant search apparatus devised by Larry Page and Sergy Brin, known as the Google search engine, has been phenomenal in according a significant degree of self-dependence on young college students and professionals. A bunch of three working professionals desired to perform an extensive Satyanarayana Puja at their newly refurbished and rearranged place. Their reasons were singular, but their determination was shared. While one wanted to do away with all “negative energies” in her life and surroundings and create a new “pure” atmosphere at home, the other two had been professing such rituals since childhood and this was a reason to conduct the puja something they had not performed “since a while”. The question was How? The answer was Ask Mr. Google.
A quick Google search was done by a couple of friends present during the declaration of an intention to conduct the puja in addition to the three working professionals. One could notice a renewed enthusiasm in those Googlers to find an authentic and correct way to perform the puja almost a calm competition and polite argument on who first finds the most authentic page on Google. To add to the “polite argument”, a couple of the five brains working towards finding a solution had reasonably recent memories of attending such a puja. What this did is add in directly contradicting assertions on the core requirements of the puja. For example, Wikipedia says a Satyanarayana Puja does not require a Brahmin to perform, but two of them were vocal in their disagreement. I can only describe the slight nervousness and irritation on part of the three hosts who wanted a quick consensus so that the necessary ingredients could be arranged for. If this wasn’t enough, one of the three hosts wanted to perform a “havan”; the reason being to eliminate each single trace of negativity. The other host and a friend responded quickly “What about the over-sensitive fire alarms?”. The determination to conduct the havan faded slightly, but we all know how effective women are when they express their sadness. The boys melted and started thinking seriously on how to conduct a havan without offending the permanent unwanted tenant in every apartment i.e. the fire alarm. Throughout these discussions, respect for each other’s views and a willingness to hear the other remained. Generally, a discussion amongst youngsters is usually characterized by a great deal of respect and there is no imposition of one’s views on the rest. No offence to the senior readers of this article, but I am referring to the way I have observed discussions between different age groups on a general basis.
The hosts had a laborious weekend, though other close friends offered their help in cleaning up the place and obtaining all ingredients required for the puja. We Indians have an uncanny knack of almost involving ourselves in any festivities conducted by others. We often tend to offer our suggestions which, at times, get a little too much, but a host would never feel alone. You always find a “last-minute savior” who provides the missing tools and equipments, including becoming the pujari! We began the puja at 6 pm on a Sunday evening. Another notable fact is that we Indians generally have a tendency to arrive significantly late at a function or a party (often referred to as the “Indian Stretchable Time (IST)), but for a puja, most people are punctual. One would ask why? One answer is that all attendees of the puja have a self-serving reason to sincerely perform the puja. The benefits that the puja offers, as is mythologically believed, brings in this unprecedented sincerity and the resulting punctuality. Some are religious, some are atheists, some are agnostic and some spiritual. A common thread is a “belief” in the religious festivity. You also have a few for whom it is more of a social gathering a reason to meet your extended social circle who they haven’t met since a long time. I wouldn’t say they don’t respect the religious beliefs, but some of them often end up talking about their jobs and life in general much to the disturbance of the puja. I don’t mean to create a gender bias here, but for a few women I know, an additional reason for their excitement was getting to wear nice pretty Indian outfits. The interesting part was that among the attendees, there was one white American and a Pakistani national. The reason for the white American to attend the puja was because he was fascinated and inquisitive when an Indian friend of his explained interesting facts about the puja. More touching was the response of the Pakistani girl who sincerely bowed down to Lord Vishnu and participated in the “aarti” as well. Her respect and belief in Islam as well as Hinduism was parallel and equal. Talk about religious tolerance!
A few minutes before the puja began, the hosts decided that the Satyanarayana katha will be read in English since those few of us who learnt Sanskrit as kids were not confident of our fluency. A Brahmin friend was called to do the puja. It was followed by the aarti where I witnessed a subtle struggle between attendees to grab the aarti plate before others all in good spirit, but perhaps the massive crowd at Indian temples has resulted in this tendency to not follow the customary etiquette reflected in the words “pehle aap”. The aarti was conspicuous by the confusion in that different attendees knew different versions, but the spirit of the puja didn’t let that matter. After most of the attendees left, the havan preparations began. For the havan, we started with the Durga Puja, using an online video sent by one of the attendees’ maternal uncle who regularly performs such hawans followed by the Agni Puja and ending it with recitation of 108 names of Lord Ganesha. The fire alarm concerns arose again and it was decided to have a low intensity havan. The windows were opened so that the smoke does not crowd the place. Unfortunately, a bad wind-chill made all of us shiver, but the sheer determination saw us through. While one set of havan attendees wanted to increase the intensity of the havan, the other set reminded them of the fire alarm. One could observe different personalities in each little disagreement we had for example, the former set would give religious rituals more preference over regulations and bylaws of the apartment whereas the latter set would be practical and rational in ensuring that we do not get into trouble with the management office. One of us read the mantras for the havan and another friend tied the sacred thread to all attendees. And all of us helped reorganize the place which was buzzing with positive energy and a refreshing pure atmosphere.
It is another matter that the social chit-chat about what dresses were worn by others, how sweet the prasad was and general gossiping started the very next day, but who claims that a puja changes you 180 degrees! The lives of attendees got a religious restructuring and I thank Mr. Google for enabling us in a significant manner.
*Kartikeya Tanna is an attorney by profession and is a partner at Tanna Associates, a law firm in the State of Gujarat. Currently, working at the Washington D.C. law offices of Jones Day.
Kartikeya is actively involved in current affairs around the world and has a special interest in politics. He has previously written articles on various issues in finance and economics for various publications. For a detailed biodata of Kartikeya, please visit
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Kartikeya ji Nice of you to have performed a pooja learning steps by the google and thanks also to those who posted it for likes of you.But if you call this as ethos of our hindu religion then that is NOT your fault but of our religious torch holders..karmakanda or Jyotish of any kind is abhorred by person NO less than Shankaracharya ji !..Hinduism and Upanishads in all its glory makes you independent of all these ..and more..It is poetry of life and many exploit it for their own end..
Added By dr hemant sant
Beautiful write up. Some of your sentences made me laugh. I really liked your expression and description Added By Chandra
Added By chandra ganju
I appreciate the enthusiasm you had shown in performing the Puja, along with your friends. The google has done a lot of service to the people, and it has equally helped you in performing the Satya Narayan Puja. It would have been better, if the Havan & Satya Narayan puja would have been videographed. Dr Chaman Lal Raina
Added By Chaman Lal Raina