Trust, Faith & Trade; Religious Mela’s Turn Into Marketing Events
By, Roopnarayan Sawariya
When you think about India, it is the country where people are always driven by faith in their personal, professional as well as social life. They believe in god, they believe in good deeds, and they believe in good thoughts. At times, thre are situations when the evil sense tries to overrule, but the immense power of faith saves them from committing bad deeds. The whole country is driven by a magical power that is, the faith. Some people believe in Lord Rama; some have faith in Ramdevji where as for some people have an intense faith in Lord Krishna or Lord Vitthal. Everyone believes in some supreme power.
People do different things to pay homage to their deities. Some people fast for a certain period. Sometimes, people gather to some religious place to show their devotion towards the god. It is called Yatra or pilgrimage.
Yatra, the grand event
In Rajasthan, the ‘Yatra’ is considered a special way to show the devotion and respect to the deities. It is a big state (in fact, the largest state). Hence, these ‘yatras’ cover 100, 200 or even 300 kilometers of distance where people go barefoot. Regardless of the troubles, pain or discomfort, they reach t the destination just because of one thing; their immense faith in the deity. They face difficulties; their feet get hurt, but they do not give up.
While some people feel immense pleasure in going barefoot to their god, some people feel pleasure in serving the pilgrims. They consider it the true representation of their devotion. They offer services to the pilgrims such as good quality food or arrangements for their daily chores. Cozy beds and tents are arranged where the pilgrims can rest during the night. Those who can’t go to take the ‘darshan’ of the deity get the satisfaction of going to the pilgrimage by serving the pilgrims.
When hundreds, thousands or millions of people reach the destination; it is undoubtedly a challenging task for the local administration or deity trust to manage the things. If the Yatra continues for more than a week or fortnight, then the situation becomes further difficult.
Corporate houses and entrepreneurs serve in the event
There has been a remarkable change in the situation recently where big corporate houses are coming forward to offer their services. It is a tremendous step indeed.
Recently, I visited Baba Ramdev Yatra where fantastic facilities were offered by Vrittii Solutions Limited. They offered portable toilets, wash rooms, changing rooms and camps to the pilgrims.
I talked to Shrimati Bhuri Devi who is the Sarpanch in the Gram Panchayat about this change. According to her, millions of people visit Baba Ramdev Mela every year and it is impossible for the local administration to offer sufficient facilities to them. However, with the voluntary contribution of Vritti Solutions, there has been a tremendous improvement in the condition. Vritti Solutions collaborated with big brand names such as JK Cement, Ankur Chadar, Honda, Ghadi Detergent to provide state-of-the-art facilities to people.
When I visited Mela place, I was surprised to see the fantastic facilities being offered to the pilgrims. Earlier, ladies used to face a great difficulty in changing clothes in the open air after taking the holy dip. This time there were well-maintained changing rooms. I was really wondering that how come these big corporate houses that are known for their commercial approach came forward to offer the services. However, the motive was not purely to offer services. It was a big opportunity to showcase their products and services to millions of the people, and that also at the lowest costs.
Today, companies are required to spend fortune on promoting their products using expensive media such as TV, newspapers, FM Radio or others. Moreover, the penetration gets confined to the urban areas predominantly. The rural areas are still unreachable. When such mass events are targeted for brand promotion, it reaches to the rural market.
There is nothing more effective way to reach the rural population other than such events. The strategy of service-cum-marketing brings benefit to the companies. Imagine a situation when a person is desperate for the glimpse of the deity and he sees the signboard of JK Cement where it is mentioned that the temple is just a kilometer away.
Or a situation where an elderly person gets a head and foot massage in the relief camp organized by Navratna Oil. He gets energized for the further journey.
The combination of service and marketing by corporate houses is a great success mantra. Yes, there is a bit of business along with a lot of reverence!