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4 funerals and a big fat wedding, live on camera 
Webcasting can be a boon for friends and family far away 
By Parvathi Hari Kumar | Times of India - Bangalore 

When Kaushik Desai died of a heart attack in Ahmedabad at the height of the swine flu scare in India in August 2009, his siblings in California were advised to stay put. With stringent security and medical checks at airports and fears of contracting the virus, Bhavnaben and her brother thought it prudent not to fly home for the last rites. But they were part of the funeral function nonetheless, thanks to technology. A relative came up with the idea of live webcasting. 

This may seem macabre for India, where tradition governs solemn occasions such as funerals. It almost seems better to webcast a wedding. 

Deepa Swaroop’s big fat Indian wedding was webcast live and she can’t stop gushing about the effect. “My inbox was full of smses by the end of the day, with comments on my jewellery and looks.” 

But Deepa was aghast at the live webcast of the funeral of a friend’s grandfather. The 25-year-old says “it was scary. This was no joyous occasion. Everyone in church was crying. Why would you want a CD of that?” 

Perhaps not. But webcasting may be just the thing for faraway mourners. Welcome to the world wide web 2010. It is not only changing social mores, it’s changing the way people grieve and groove. Some times though, it may be difficult to sell the idea. 

The Madras Cemeteries Board got a taste of that when it advertised that it was ready to webcast funerals. It has had no takers, admits Dr S Bosco Alangar Raj, honorary secretary. 

The basic technology of webcasting involves live streaming using a content Delivery Network that supports formats such as Flash, H.264, Windows Media, 3GPP, QuickTime, etc. Alen James, CEO of Spicewebs.in, says his company added 10 servers this year to the existing 16. More are planned. “With more servers, viewers get better quality streaming,” he says.

Courtesy : Times of India - Bangalore Edition - 06.Sept.2010

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