All through their lives, many Indians religiously observe, perform and follow rituals. When a member of the family dies, certain ceremonies have to be performed in a very particular manner. These age-old customs that in many ways define the Indian ethos have not remained untouched by the 21st century India, specifically, by the recent boom in the entrepreneurial startup culture. New startups have been established that specialise in handling post-death ceremonies.
From burying to cremation to asthi visarjan, startups are helping to make things easy for grieving family members so that they do not get bogged down by ritual complexities or get duped by unscrupulous people in time of distress.
Mokshshil.com is an Ahmedabad based startup that handles post-death ceremonies across religions. It began as a cremation service for the Hindus, but now offers to help with different kinds of ceremonies and rituals.
"We have started with a city — Ahmedabad — since there's a rise in nuclear and migrating families who have little family support when tragedy strikes suddenly," said Bilva Desai a college professor from the city who set up the company in 2015.
Mokhshil offers basic 'Antim Kriya' for ₹4,500 with the option of adding more rituals to the 'package'. The basic package includes taking your deceased loved one from home or hospital to the final venue where the ceremony is held. Everything is arranged for, including the priest to perform the rites.
The idea behind Mokshshil is to make the performing of last rites hassle free and also to offer upfront prices so as to avoid bargaining with priests or those involved in various purchases. Desai started the service because she lost her mother in 2012 and realized that arranging for everything during the moment of grief is not a pleasant experience at all.
The company also offers others services such as arranging for the after-prayer, tribute in the newspapers, donations, pilgrimages and more.
And now, they are also launching a service called Mokshanjali where the bereaved can create a page for their loved ones online. The family of the deceased will be able to upload photos and videos, and friends and family from anywhere in the world will be able to leave comments as tributes.
Another startup, Asthivisarjan.com focuses on providing services to Non-Resident Indians who want the remains or asthi of their loved ones to be appropriately consigned with due ceremony. Founder Harendra Khoya wants to help people living abroad to oversee the rites of their loved ones.
The website offers to book the place where people want the remains of the deceased to be finally consigned to the elements. The family, however, has to arrange the transport to the Asthi Visarjan office. From there, the family can choose one of the 12 places where the last rites will be performed. The family will later be able to see the images and videos of the ceremonies on the app or the website.
The startup also provides services such as Brahman Bhojan, Pind Daan and Shraddh Pooja. Khoya currently offers the service for US based NRIs only, with an office in New York and a branch in Mumbai.
"I have been in this country for the past 30 years as an NRI. I observed the need of this service over the years and decided to start in the US and then gradually venture out to the rest of the world," he said.
There are other startups too, offering similar services, such as Antimseva.org, which is run by a charitable trust.