While “culture war” is the term that has been used to describe the battle between religion and popular culture, the interaction between religion and marketing seems to be less of a war than a negotiation. Religion and marketing are not, in fact, at war. Nor are they mutually exclusive. Rather, there is a symbiotic relationship between religion and marketing.
‘Market’ has entered even in the remotest of not only this religious affair, but also in all spaces of our private and personal life as well. Even if we lament the cultural impacts of corporate globalization; the inundation of the tele-visual media, the increasing centrality of consumption, the constant re-fashioning of the taste and aspirations of middle and upper class urban folk cannot actually be avoided under any circumstances.
The pro-market reforms have brought the state and the corporate sector in a closer collaboration with the religious sentiments. The neoliberal reforms and globalization are creating the circuits of demand and supply which did not exist before. The technological infrastructure and the economic logic of globalization have actually touched every spheres of our life. With the opening up of the markets and accompanying liberalization and privatization as a part of globalization, a lot of changes have come in our ways of living.
The lucrative packages of the multinational companies vest the middle classes with the purchasing power which ultimately lead them to be the consumerist class. Celebration of the culture of consumerism is one of the visible consequences of globalization. The culture of consumerism is not only about consuming more; rather it refers to a classy lifestyle. The distinctive traits of such lifestyles are concerns for brand equity, craze for the latest, and proliferation of wants over needs and a tendency of exhibitionism.
The desire for the latest is systematically kept up by the Durga puja organizations by means of continuously coming up with something “new and different”. It is also sustained by stimulating a desire to stay ahead of others. “Wants” are manufactured desires generated by advertisements patronized by media.
Puja through the changing time had changed itself adequately with the forces of modernization, globalization, liberalization and capitalist corporatization. It has now become a huge spectacle. (Garai, 2017)
Economic terms are introduced in this study since the changes in tradition are best explained by such. It is interesting to see how religion and the traditional have kept up with the forces of modernity. Religion has turned out to be very flexible. Now, when we see a perfect reproduction of a religious ritual, we feel nostalgia; not reverence.
However, it remains to be seen exactly how far religion and traditions can be stretched. Even a rubber band has its breaking point. The way that brands have swooped down on Durga Puja, even branding its Bhog at certain places, it might prove to be a bad omen for them.