Prolific adman Ambi Parameswaran’s new book For God’s Sake is definitely worth picking up, reading and enjoying. The free-flowing style in which it is written with anecdotes covering all major religions and faiths, which makes this book a comprehensive read. Here’s an advertising professional who looks at things from an Indian perspective and has been able to focus the spotlight on the changing Indian consumer and his/her values, beliefs and participation in religious rites and rituals.
Be it auspicious or suspicious occasions, be it a chronicle of ages or marriages, be it weddings or festivals, religious travel or tourism, Parameswaran has brought in a different perspective to the Indian way of living.
It is interesting to observe how a religious ritual such as puja, has evolved over the years, with dire predictions being made about the future course of things to come. This is evident in the following excerpt from the book: “Many years ago, the only way to perform an elaborate puja was to invite a scholarly purohit/brahmin to come and perform it for you at your house. Then came books that gave you step-by-step instructions. Now we have video CDs that can show you what needs to be done. Soon, there will be smartphone apps to tell you the same. In the future, I suspect we could even have a purohit do a puja over video via Skype. In the bigger cities of India, it would save the purohit a great deal of time. And a purohit sitting in Mumbai could well guide the devotee in New Jersey.” Times change, people change and even methods change. But, in my opinion, the puja remains the same.
In another section of the book, it is also interesting to note how occasions such as weddings have begun to be described by their market size and all the other economics associated with weddings.
“A report in the Hindustan Times (April 1, 2013) pegs the size of the wedding industry as ₹1.5 lakh crore. Given the size of India’s grey economy, the real figure could far exceed any official estimate. Expenditure on weddings encompasses attire, jewellery, wedding events (puja, cuisine, decoration, entertainment, etc.) as well as travel, hotels, transport and other associated costs (not to mention the products bought as wedding gifts which could include cars, homes and consumer durables). The report indicates that 10% of Indian weddings are planned to accommodate over a thousand guests!”
This reflects on how our nation spends lavishly on weddings and related celebrations. Parameswaran, with his experience and easy writing style, connects with the reader and gets him/her involved in the anecdotes and experiences mentioned in the book. It is evident from Parameswaran’s book that there are a lot of Indians who appear to have a stake in god’s take.