While 30% of India’s poor have to live on Rs 32 per day in villages and Rs 47 in cities, in houses of mud and straw, with no clothes worth the name to cover their bodies, no water or nutritious food and no toilets to ease themselves when alive, and cannot even afford to die because of no money to bury or cremate them after death, the gods in over 16 religious shrines in India have income which runs into crores. They live or travel out in silver and gold bedecked sanctums and chariots, clothed and ornamented in the finest of fine clothes and jewellery, fed sumptuously and sung to sleep. As the income of religious organisations has boomed, so have opportunities for spending offered by crass commercialisation and new technology. The increase in wealth is being flaunted through elaborate spending on ritual and festivals.
The richest of all the temples in India, the Padmanabhaswamy temple, located in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, is estimated to have around $20 billion. The golden idol of Mahavishnu in the temple wears antique gold ornaments and golden crowns, and holds a golden bow. The gold necklace adorning the deity is 18 feet long and weighs around 2.5 kg.
The second richest temple, that of Lord Venkateswara at Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, is visited by approximately 60,000 visitors who donate around Rs 650 crore to the temple in a year. The gold on the deity itself weighs 1,000 kg.
Similarly, the Siddhivinayak temple’s dome over the Ganesha idol in Mumbai is coated in 3.7 kilos of gold. On average, the annual income of the temple is Rs 48 crore.
Even Shirdi Sai Baba, who had renounced all riches in his life to lead an ascetic existence, is said to have gold and silver jewellery worth approximately Rs 32 crore and silver coins worth more than Rs 6 lakh. The temple gets donations worth Rs 350 crore every year.
The growing reserves of bullion with religious bodies have raised the annual Ganeshotsav insurance cover sought by Ganpati mandals to record levels this season, while the ordinary man on the street has no insurance cover at all, inspite of government promises. The richest mandal in Mumbai, GSB Seva Mandal at King’s Circle, has purchased insurance cover worth Rs 300 crore higher than before due to the 15 kg silver mandap which now houses the Lord, who is adorned with 68 kg of gold and 315 kg of silver. The organisers handling Lalbaugcha Raja have not only insured their own pandal for Rs 51 crore by paying a premium of Rs 13.2 lakh, but also covered immersion processions across Mumbai.
If you think that mankind created the gods contact:
The World Socialist Party (India): 257 Baghajatin ‘E’ Block (East), Kolkata – 700086,