"We received the letter recently. We have entrusted the managing committee of the temple to take a final decision," said a senior official of the Guruvayur temple, who asked not to be named. Guruvayur — with an annual income estimated at Rs. 50 crore — has a treasure of over 600 kg of gold.
Offering gold bars to temples is an age-old tradition in India. Around 20,000 tonnes of gold is estimated to be possessed by homes and temples.
The second biggest seasonal pilgrimage after Mecca, Sabarimala — attracting nearly three crore pilgrims — ‘earns' around R105 crore and 15 kg of gold annually.
Denying unconfirmed reports that RBI may approach major temples to buy gold, RBI's regional director S Gangadharan, dismissed the letter as a "routine exercise". "The RBI has no plans to buy gold from anyone for now."
"We will not allow the government to plunder shrines," said BJP state president V Muralidharan.