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By Surya Narayan Pradhan

Bhubaneswar: Planning to have ‘abadha’ (temple prasad) of the well-known temple in the city? Or want to serve a mouth-watering vegetarian dish on a special occasion? Or wish to gift your parents living in the city temple food while staying at a faraway place? You don’t have to rush to the nearest temple, tiffin carrier or bag in hand, wait in a long and often serpentine queue before getting your stuff anymore. All you have to do to avail the heavenly stuff now is to click a few buttons on your computer, laptop or smart phone from the comfort of your home or office. And Bingo, your Prasad reaches you in next to no time – and at a highly affordable price too.

This coming together of tradition and cutting edge technology has been made possible by a few young entrepreneurs with fire in their belly and a desire to explore new horizons by launching start-ups in hitherto unexplored areas.

One such online prasad provider service, templethali.com, is creating ripples among the netizens in the Twin City Started by six engineering students of the College of Engineering and Technology (CET), Bhubaneswar and operating out of a two-storey house in a residential area in the Macheswar in Bhubaneswar. The templethali.com is providing ‘abadha’ (cooked bhoga) from the famous Ananta Basudeba temple in Old Town and Shani Temple near Vani Vihar to begin with. The customer just has to make the booking online and the ‘abadha’ reaches his doorsteps. The cash-on-delivery facility on offer saves the customer the usual hassles in making payment. .

Abhishek Lenka, one of the founders of the templethali.com, told odishatv.in, “Someone can also make payments online through net banking, debit or credit cards.”

The templethali.com, launched as recently as July, 2016, is planning to open franchises across Odisha as well as outside the State after people showed interest and began making queries to the company.

“People from Western and southern parts of the State as well as faraway cities such as Bangalore and Mumbai are showing interest to open franchises. So one can imagine what kind of response we are getting from people,” a visibly pleased Lenka said.

Customers too are happy with the online Prasad service. For some, it is a highly convenient option to get vegetarian food in the city with just a click of mouse. For others, especially those located in faraway places, it is a convenient way to order temple food for their parents or near or dear ones, who cannot travel from one part of the city to the other.

Hariprasad Swain, an engineering student, said, “I have ordered ‘abadha’ 10-12 times online through templethali.com. The service is fantastic. Above all, templethali.com delivers single orders also, which is the USP of the online prasad service provider.”

Sudhansu Sekhar Seth, who ordered ‘abadha’ online from Bangalore for his aged parents in Bhubaneswar, said, “For the first time, I availed the service through templethali.com. The idea of this service is really great.” He is, however, sceptical about the quality of the food following the kind of feedback he got from his parents.

There will always be Doubting Thomases like Seth, who will wonder whether the ‘prasad’ on offer online is the actual stuff offered to the deities first. But most customers believe in the honesty and integrity of the service providers.

Ritu Poddar, a Mumbai resident, who availed the service of jagannathpurionline.com, said, “It’s a matter of trust. We have faith on the service provider that it would not betray us in the name of god. In any case, the freshness and the aroma of the prasad leave little room for any doubt.”

Echoing Poddar, Ganesh Sahu from Chennai, said, “We believe no one will cheat customers in the name of god. The online ‘prasad’ service provider might fool someone once, but he will be caught out sooner or later. Therefore, I don’t think they would risk their reputation as well as their business by resorting to such fraud.”

For those wanting to avail ‘abadha’ from the Sri Jagannath temple in Puri online, there are Puri based start-ups like jagannathpurionline.com and mahaprasadam.net. These portals are a Lord Jagannath-sent opportunity for those living outside Puri, who do not have either the time or the money to come down to the pilgrim town to get the dry ‘prasad’ of the deities. These start-ups are offering deals through which one can get the dry ‘prasad’ sitting in the comfort of his/her home or office and that too at an eminently reasonable price.

Says Amresh Sahu, proprietor of the jagannathpurionline.com, “Around 98% of our customers are from outside Odisha. Social media and word-to-mouth have been acting as catalysts for my business to grow. As long as the internet is there, I do not see any decline in the business.”

Online dry Prasad from the Sri Mandir has even transcended national boundaries and gone global, claims Ramkrushna Dikshit, owner of the mahaprasadam.net and a servitor of the Puri temple.

“Most of the times, I get orders from abroad to provide dry ‘prasad’ of the deities. As Bhubaneswar and Cuttack are within 100 km radius of Puri, I hardly get orders from these places,” Dikshit told odishatv.in.

If the response to the first few start-ups is anything to go by, the online Prasad market is soon going to be an overcrowded place.

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