India loves religious festivals, but are its citizens ready to participate in such celebrations in virtual reality? An Indian startup thinks they are, and launched its first project this year, saying there are 20000 avatars.
The annual Durga Puja religious festival is the largest religious festival in India. It attracts as many as 250 million people to hold a week-long activity in various parts of India every October to celebrate the mother goddess Durga Puja's victory over evil. For Indians who cannot participate in the Durga Puja Puja Pufa celebration listed by UNESCO in person, through the 3D social network Spatial provided by Indian start-ups XP&Dland and Metaform, this can be achieved through goggles free virtual reality on smartphones or computers.
Sukrit Singh, the co-founder of the two companies, said in an interview: "We are considering introducing popular cultural activities into Web3. What better way to start than Durga Puja, because it is the largest regular human gathering."
Users can create a virtual image, and then enter an online copy of "pandal". Pandal is a temporary physical structure, some of which are built by imitating temples or churches. It is located in dozens of places in India for the goddess to live in. Singh said that Pandals is a place of worship, and users' avatars can see other people in their avatars.
According to Singh, in a trial run this year, about 20000 people used virtual images. He said that considering the millions of people who participated in the real Durga Puja, this was just a small start. But he believes that this shows the potential for growth and income opportunities. This includes non replaceable tokens (NFT) and advertising, he said. He did point out that the stumbling block of his plan was to obtain a stable high-speed Internet connection at a location in India.
In West Bengal, the fourth most populous state in India, there are as many as 40000 temporary pandals and Hindu temples involved.
According to a study conducted by the British Council on behalf of the local government, the economic value of Durga Puja in the region is estimated to be 4.53 billion US dollars, accounting for 2.58% of the state's GDP.
A Deloitte report estimated that by 2035, the meta universe could increase the gross domestic product (GDP) of the whole Asia by as much as 1.4 trillion US dollars annually, equivalent to 2.4% of the overall GDP. The report said that the meta universe has the potential to create new markets and enterprises, as well as open up employment opportunities. The report points out that the Chinese, Korean and Japanese governments have included the meta universe initiative in their economic planning strategies.
Singh said that his pilot project in India was carried out this year in West Bengal, eastern India, with four Dulgapuja organizers. Singh said that his team created online versions of four pandas and dropped 16000 NFTs of the god by air.
Saptarshi Basu, the organization secretary of the Ballygunge Cultural Association, one of the organizers of the four Durga Puja Law Societies, said: "We like this idea. In fact, anyone anywhere can visit our pandal. In the future, online viewers should be able to choose to buy souvenirs, photos or works of art. This has a wide range." He added, The meta cosmic approach allows people with health problems or living too far away to experience the Durga Puja fire puja online.
Sagar Chatterjee, director of Beezle Fashion, headquartered in Calcutta, said: "I am not in India this October, but I do not want to miss the Dharma Assembly of Durga Puja. So I participated in it as my virtual image and saw pandal and decorations, which was the best choice at that time."
During the epidemic, the use of virtual reality settings and avatars for religious worship and community activities became more acceptable in Christian churches. According to a survey conducted by Wunderman Thompson in July 2022, 85% of Muslim respondents said that they were interested in the religious worship of the meta universe. Singh said it is meaningful to bring mass cultural activities to the meta universe, adding that he plans to discuss his project with about 300 temples in India. He plans to open 100 Durga Puja law clubs online next year.