As the world adjusts 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, BAPS Hindu Temples (BAPS Mandirs) across Australia are rolling-out technology-led approaches to provide spiritual and social solace to devotees.
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.
BAPS Australia hosted its first weekly assembly on the digital delivery platform from its Mandir located in Sydney to bring together about 4,400 households across Australia for a two-hour live multi-lingual program filled with devotional songs (kirtans) and 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 face to face interactions in social and work environments. In this unprecedented global challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic governments, business leaders, community groups, volunteering organisations and businesses are adjusting to continue the life during the lockdown.
The closures and isolation across the world pose a major challenge for all ages in terms of how to stay connected and continue spiritual practice. BAPS Mandirs have regularly hosted multiple age group based activities and assemblies in multiple languages on weekly and fortnightly basis across seven Australian metropolitan cities and around 50 other suburban and regional centres.
These weekly assemblies provide the continuity and inspire digital attendees with hope, responsible behaviour, honesty and integrity, care and compassion.
Kunal Patel a volunteer from Sydney says that as a practicing Hindu, it was very important for him and his family to ensure they are able to still receive their 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,” he said.
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.