Collections at the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal touched a new high with organisers raking in Rs 2.64 crore at the three-day long auction ceremony that ended on Sunday. The total collections including the cash component added up to Rs 11 crore, the highest ever.
“The foreign currency and cheques will be cashed after a few days. We are planning to cross Rs 20 crore once we add up all donations collected through the year,” said Rajendra Lanjwal, mandal treasurer. “The gold and silver items that did not sell at the auctions will be moulded into coins with the Raja’s imprint,” he added.
The coveted items put up for auction on Day 3 included diamonds (estimated value Rs 6.5 lakh), which were sold for Rs 10.53 lakh, a gold necklace (estimated value Rs 17 lakh) that had to be brought down to Rs 16.17 lakh, a 1 kg gold bar (estimated value Rs 28 lakh), which went for Rs 32 lakh and a Cartier watch for Rs 6.5 lakh. The total collections on the third day of the auction added up to Rs 1.30 crore.
Devotees at the auction went all out to secure funds to pay for their bids. “My daughter will be getting married in January. This is my wedding gift to her,” said Shalini Jadhav, who pledged her own jewellery to pay for a gold chain that cost her Rs 30,000. Even advocate Anandita Sawant, who spent Rs 11.5 lakh at this year’s auction ceremony, broke her fixed deposit to generate funds. “My fixed deposit will mature only in December. Waiting for so long would mean letting go of Raja’s prasad,” said Sawant.
This year, the mandal auctioned 14 kg of gold and more than 300 kg of silver, which was a record in itself. “For the first time, we had diamonds and gold bars for auction. Silver items including a kalash with a base rate of Rs 11,000 eventually sold for Rs 2.75 lakh,” said Ashok Pawar, mandal president.
Devotees who have paid by cheque will have to wait for two more days to take home the precious metal. “A few years ago, a devotee’s cheque bounced days after he had taken possession of a gold necklace,” said Lanjwal.