Travancore Devaswom Board has planned to deposit the gold offerings received by the many temples under its supervision with the Reserve bank of India (RBI).
The board is an autonomous body constituted under the Travancore Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act XV of 1950 and entrusted with the task of administrating 1,248 temples in Travancore in Kerala.
“There are many devotees who donate gold to these temples. This is of two kinds - one, for permanent use for the deity at the temple or which has been donated for the deity. This is not touched by us and kept as is. Then there is gold that is with the Devaswom like gold coins and bars and for these we want to pledge it with the bank,” said Vasu, President of Travancore Devaswom Board.
The gold offerings will be melted and purified before depositing with the RBI as gold bonds.The board said they are evaluating the gold in every temple and are yet to begin the deposits. Vasu said that these gold bonds would yield a 2% interest that could benefit the temple.
The initial estimate is that the quantity of the gold can be over 1,200 kg, cited On Manorama.
The offerings made at Guruvayur temple and Tirupati have also been stored in a similar way with RBI, said the media report. The former earns Rs 10.5 crore as annual interest from the gold deposit, it said.
The Travancore Devaswom Board towards the end of May, had stated that since all temples under the board were closed for over two months the total estimated loss the board has sustained stands at over Rs 200 crore.
Various Hindu organisations like the Hindu Aikya Vedi and the Antharashtra Hindu Parishad ( AHP) moved the High Court and challenged the board's decision to auction lanterns, brass materials that are kept at various temples in Kerala.
While a few of raised objection to this move, Vasu assured, “The board will be moving a petition with the Kerala High Court and only after that will we go ahead with this.”
He said this initiative was decided much before the coronavirus pandemic hit the world and now with businesses resuming, they are taking it forward.
Chottanikkara Amman temple told The Quint that their temple board has not made any such decision. They have now opened the temples strictly following social distancing guidelines, providing sanitisers for all devotees and thermal scanning each one of them. There are also separate entrance and exit gates to avoid crowding.