Monday, August 23, 2004

New in India: 'Anytime' Blessings by ATM

The Hindustan Times reports that you can now leave 'anytime' blessings via ATM:

Many banks now offer the 'anytime' customer the choice of getting divine blessings 'anytime' just by the click of a few buttons. So you can make an offering to Lord Venkateshwara at Tirupati, Lord Jagannath at Puri, Mata Vaishnodevi or any of the big temples in the country through conventional ATMs.

The Anytime Blessings (ATB) service comes in a customer friendly package which you can access from the options menu of your friendly neighborhood ATM.

You can select the temple of your choice from there and thereafter click the option indicating the service you want to perform. Then click to send in your remittances.

"You do not have to wait till you visit the shrine to make an offering. You can send money anytime to any of the big temples in the country for conducting sevas or as a fulfillment of your prayers and secure your favourite deity's blessings," said an ICICI Bank official.

"Not many are aware that they can donate to temples and even book their darshan tickets in advance through ATMs. While it will take some time for people get to know about it, it's already picking up with tech-savvy devotees and people using Internet banking," the official added.

This is ICICI Bank, folks, one of the biggest in India.

My FIRST thought was, where is the Sikh version? I demand the secularization of Anytime Blessings technology!

My SECOND thought was, hmmm, this could work in the U.S. as well. Jews, Christians, and Tibetan Buddhists could also use it! Just think: automated Church collections, and you don't even have to leave your car. There could even be special "Godly" banks, where instead of charging the standard $1.50 per withdrawal fee, the Faithful are automatically Tithed! I am sure the Faithful would be able to sacrifice $5 or $6 everytime they withdrew. And the convenience would be unparalleled.

Unfortunately, Indian Americans would probably have to trek to Fremont, CA or Jackson Heights, New York, to give our automated 'props' to Lord Venkateshwara, the Golden Temple, Imam Ali, Aga Khan, Ahura Mazda, etc. Well, nothing more than we're used to.

My THIRD thought was, maybe people could also do marriages and divorces at ATMs. Why not? It would reduce the overhead of religious organizations if they could automate this key ritual. Critics might say, ATM marriages might make it easier members of the same sex to marry -- and we wouldn't want that to happen -- as a security camera can be fooled through a combination of wardrobe, make-up, and androgynous bone structure. But this is a non-issue if both parties are required to insert a major credit card prior to union, as they will surely be required to do. The camera may not know, but Visa knows!

Others might feel an ATM marriage is a rather cheap way to exchange sacred vows love and trust in perpetuity. After all, who wants to get married at a convenience store? Maybe this could be solved by placing special, decorative ATMs on or near the altars of select religious institutions. The need for live clergy is still reduced (cheaper Indian clergy could oversee and bless the proceedings remotely), and the happy couple feels it is getting its money's worth, as it were, in the ceremony.


Kerim Friedman said...

Have you seen these photos of vending machines in Japan?

I'm jealous of my friend who can buy stamps at his bank's ATM machine.

10:13 AM  
Amardeep said...

Brilliant! Now I'm nervous to go visit Japan because I will envy their amazing vending machine possibilities.

Also -- what would Roland Barthes think? (Empire of Signs)

10:45 AM  
PhDiva said...

I love it!! Now in addition to doing puja on line, if i were in India i could go to a bank machine and give. This is what makes India the weird and wacky place that it is.

2:27 PM  

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