The demonetisation of the old banknotes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 is even affecting the capacity for devotional measures, too. At the Golden Temple (Darbar Sahib) in Amritsar, there is a significant dip in bookings for ‘akhand path’ (chain prayers) at the complex. It costs Rs 6,100 and the waiting period can be three years, but new bookings have come down from 50 a day to a maximum of 10, as people do not have enough cash.
Anyone can get conducted the round-the-clock prayers — 48 to 50 hours at a stretch — for which there are 40-odd rooms provided at the complex.
“As we are not accepting old notes, and most people coming for bookings do not have new ones, the number has come down heavily,” said manager Sulakhan Singh, adding, “Now we have merely 8-10 bookings a day as compared to an average of 50 earlier. However, we have advance bookings and the ‘akhand path’ is going on.”
The waiting period can exceed six years if the prayers are to be conducted the more important places such as the Dukh Bhanjani Beri, Lachi Beri, and inside the Akal Takht.
There is also a decline in collection at the ‘parsad’ counter and other known donations. “In routine, donation (for which receipt is issued) is Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh a day, but this has come down to Rs 35,000. At the ‘parsad’ counter, it has come down from around `6 lakh a day to Rs 2 lakh,” Sulakhan Singh said.
The note ban has thus caused a revenue loss of 20-25% to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandak Committee (SGPC). It has written to Union finance minister Arun Jaitley to allow it to accept old notes till December. SGPC chief secretary Harcharan Singh said the reason for writing to Jaitley is that the pilgrims should not be inconvenienced. A reply is awaited. The current deadline for depositing and exchanging the old notes is December 31.
Golak yet to be opened
Though the SGPC is not accepting old notes for room rent, donation or ‘parsad’, devotees are not being stopped from putting these in the ‘golak’ (routine donation box). These are yet to be opened to know how many such notes are inside, Sulakhan Singh informed.