A popular Hindu shrine in Rajasthan just got richer by more than Rs 9 lakh – all in crisp, new Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 banknotes.
And these new notes were donated by devotees at the Sanwaliya Ji temple in Chittorgarh, within 20 days of the government’s shock decision on November 8 to recall high-value banknotes that pulled out an estimated 86% of the currency in circulation.
Since the demonetisation, the government has struggled to replenish banks and ATMs with cash quickly enough to meet the demand, leaving millions of people struggling to withdraw money to meet their daily needs.
But for the faithful, there is always some cash, new and old, kept aside to be offered to god.
“We opened our donation box (on November 28)…where offerings by devotees received in the last two months were kept. We have found 441 new currency notes of Rs 2,000, the value of which is Rs. 8.8 lakh,” said Bhagwan Lal Chaturvedi, the temple’s administrative officer.
Among the offerings were 67 new Rs 500 banknotes, worth Rs 33,500.
Chaturvedi said the total value of the offerings for the last two months is an estimated Rs 4.5 crore.
“We are still counting the value of money received in small denominations such as Rs 100 and Rs 10. Owing to demonetisation, we have also received increased number of cheques this year,” said Chaturvedi.
For the past few days, the temple administration is busy counting the offerings in a highly secured room which has 14 CCTV cameras.
“We have deployed police personnel in the temple to provide increased security during the counting of the offerings,” said Hajari Lal, station house officer of Badsora in Chittorgarh.
The Sanwalia Ji temple is very popular among pilgrims in Rajasthan and is one of the most visited temples in the state, particularly for devotees of the Vaishnav sect.
Hindu shrines in India are believed to hold the biggest treasures in the country, mostly in the form of gold bars offered by devotees. They also receive crores of rupees donated by devotees and have special vaults where the currency and other valuables are kept.
According to rough estimates, around 20,000 tonnes of gold is stashed away in temples in India but the shrines’ managements have been reluctant to give away their exact worth.