India Post is getting ready to sell holy water from the river Godavari sourced during the auspicious Pushkaram period that will last from July 14 to July 25.

As per Hindu traditions, Pushkaram is celebrated at shrines along the banks of 12 major rivers that are considered sacred in India.  It is Godavari's turn this year. The celebrations take place annually, once in 12 years along each river, drawing large crowds for the first 12 days, known as Adi Pushkaram, as it is believed that the water turns holy for this durationIt is Godavari's turn this year.

According to India Post, its initiative of selling the Godavari water river for Rs 20 each per 500 ml bottle – branded as God-Jal, a short form of "Godavari Jalam" – is aimed at the aged and those devotees who live far away from the river.

“We are anticipating huge demand for the bottled water and we are not sure if we will be able to fulfil it,” said BV Sudhakar, Chief Post Master General, Andhra Pradesh Circle. “Our capacity to extract water is around 75,000 litres per day and we will only extract it for the limited period when the river water is considered to be holy.”

Quality checks

Apparently, the water will go through an 18-stage purification process which complies with existing standards before being bottled by the ISI-certified purification-and-bottling company Sapphire, which has entered into a business agreement with India Post.

Furthermore, to maintain the sanctity, the whole process will be observed by experts. “The process of extracting water will be video-graphed and our executives will monitor it at all times,” said Sudhakar. “We want to ensure everything goes well because people’s sentiments are attached to it.”

Explaining the rationale behind the idea, Sudhakar said that India Post is committed to delivering goods whatever they are and the holy water is going to be in high demand because of people’s beliefs associated with it.

“Many people believe that this water is medicinal in nature and can heal ailments that one is suffering from so they want to take a bath in it or at the least apply few drops of it on themselves,” he said, adding yet another reason why one might want to buy a few bottles of the holy-water. “It is also believed that this water can wash off all the karma and sins from the past, so any quantity is valuable.”

Religious service or commerce?

In order to reach as many people as possible in their one of a kind project, India Post has cast a wide net. Those in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana can simply reach their nearest post offices to place their orders, while others can make use of a nascent e-commerce portal that the department is in the process of setting up to accept orders from around the world.

“We will only charge the speed post fee from wherever you order,” Sudhakar said. “We don’t want to make profit out of this. We are doing it as a service.”

If the project goes well, India Post has bigger plans. Sudhakar said that an agreement with the Uttarakhand government is in the works too so that water from Ganga can also be extracted and sold at a large scale.

But this is not all, if things go well, there might be more than just holy water that India Post might end up delivering by taking orders online.

“We are trying to get agreements with many people who have shown interest in selling through our platform,” he said, citing example of All India Radio which wants to make available recordings of famous speeches by personalities such as Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru online. “We are also talking to Tirupati temple to bring their literature online for sale and similarly to the Bible Society.”

However, none of this has to do with religion or beliefs, according to Sudhakar. "We are a business entity," he said. "All these things are products and we just deliver whatever is it that people demand irrespective of sentiments attached with it."