"Outsourcing" Religion to India: Catholic, Hindu, Sikh Rituals

June 22, 2004

Source: BBC News


On June 22, 2004 the BBC News reported, "Is nothing sacred? The hard-nosed commercialism that has spawned a boom in international business outsourcing is catching on in the religious world. In the West, there is a growing shortage of holy men of all religions, and the costs of spiritual services are on the rise. An opportunity, then, for India, where high-quality, low-cost 'religious outsourcing' is becoming big business. Catholics have led the way, but Sikhs and Hindus are catching on fast...A recruitment crisis in the Catholic Church in the West has led to an increasing flow of requests for intercessory prayers and special masses to be directed to [the southern Indian state of] Kerala, according to the region's authorities. Father Babu Joseph Karakombil, a spokesman for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, told BBC News Online that, while paid-for mass intentions have always been a tradition of the church, easier communications have led to a boom in demand...In the Sikh community, the practice of Akhand Path, a marathon reading of the holy scripture of Guru Granth Sahib to bring luck or overcome a problem, has been a boom area. This is gruelling and highly specialized work. A 48-hour reading in a Western temple can cost $1,000; in India, the cost is as little as 5,000 rupees ($108). Hindu pujas, a form of prayer that varies from simple home worship to a full temple ritual, is also increasingly being outsourced."