India plans spiritual pop idol
Hymn-singing contest on reality TV aims to rediscover spirituality.
This has resulted in a proliferation of faith-based television stations offering talk shows, astrological programmes and classes on yoga and alternative medicine as a soothing alternative to 24-hour news channels and soap operas.
Arvind Joshi, an official from Aastha, India’s largest spirituality TV channel which will air the show, said: “Youth today are going to discotheques. They are drinking too much, smoking too much and being influenced by Western media.
“Even divorce rates are increasing … so we are trying to make them start thinking in the right direction.”
“Spirituality is there in the youth already, but we are trying to consolidate it,” said Joshi.
“Devotional music is the one thing that can relieve stress from people and take them towards God and spirituality.”
Instead of prizes of cash or cars normally offered to winners of India’s numerous singing reality shows, the winner will get a paid pilgrimage to a holy site of their choice and the chance to record an album of devotional songs.
Joshi said the show’s set will resemble a spiritual retreat, possibly with a river or trees in the background.
“The set will create tranquility in the minds of viewers.”
India is home to around 1.1 billion people, most of them Hindus but also including more than 140 million Muslims as well as Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains.