It even has its own mobile app.

Chennais Sri Durga Peetam The tech savvy temple with brownies for prasadam
news Temples Friday, September 09, 2016 - 17:25

When Sri Sridhar sees hands cupped and outstretched to receive the prasadam of the day in a temple, he’s irked. “Why don’t we use spoons and forks?” he asks, flabbergasted.

As an oncologist and priest of Sri Durga Peetam, he’s a stickler for sanitation and safety. That’s why he’s changed the way temples provide prasadam. And not just that. 

The temple has its own app, with a QR code affixed on each packet of kungumam (red powder). “Normally people apply kungumam on their forehead and drop the rest of it elsewhere in the temple. This helps prevent wastage and devotees can also access the app by scanning the code,” he explains enthusiastically. “It’s a very novel idea.” 

In Sri Durga Peetam, there are no undiyals (collection boxes in Tamil). A token system is followed to hand out prasadam. But this is no ordinary prasadam. “Essentially, prasadam is food offered or declared to God, right? So we provide our prasadam with clean cutlery. On special days, you get cake or even ice cream,” he says.

The temple’s pantry is certified by the Food Standards Safety Authority, the only temple in Tamil Nadu to receive this certification.

It gets better. On mornings, continental breakfast is served, completely free of cost. On special sermon days, diabetic devotees get sugar-free sweets or ice cream. Here’s how Sridhar thinks a temple should be run. “Instead of the money spent on a saree or a garland for the deity, we ask devotees to donate that money which in turn helps fund the kitchen,” he says. 

Special donors get their prasadam served to their office in a box. This box contains rice, dal, salad, and on some days, brownies. It’s a blessed box of treats. 

"I think the temple is wonderful in that it addresses two major things: Accessibility and health. Wherever you are in the world, you can scan the QR code and access the app and request for prayers to be made in your name. And health because the prasadam lunchbox takes care of all nutritional requirements. The possibility of unequal amount of prasadam doled out is also solved with the token system," says S Seshasai, a regular devotee. 

If anyone wants to donate a bag of rice or dal, he has a specific method for that too. "Whenever people come, they feel extremely happy, so they want to sponsor a day’s food, or a mala. Some people want to give rice. Some people ask to donate rice. So we buy only very good quality FSSI brand rice. It costs Rs 1300. So then we place the bag in the front office, they can buy the bag from the office. We will give them a receipt, take down their star and natchatra on the cover of the bag and use the rice bag they paid for as a dedication. The bag will be kept for one year as a record," he says. 

He even checks blood pressure and pulse levels of devotees before they perform angapradakshinams (rolling on the floor in front of the deity in a bid to surrender to the Lord). The excitement at the response is clear. "We want to be model for other temples. We love our Gods, so why can't we make their temples just as lovable for everyone?" he enthuses.