Shimla, November 20
After a span of nearly four decades, the Himachal Government has amended rules to ensure “optimal” utilisation of 603 kg gold and 235 quintal silver, offered by pilgrims, lying unused at 32 major shrines under its control.
The amendment to the HP Hindu Public Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Rules, 1984, paves the way for optimal use of precious metals lying with the temples. The last amendment was made in 1986.
Trusts to give suggestions
- The rules have been amended as nodal agency MMTC no longer converts the offered gold and silver into coins
- Temple trusts can ask government to either get gold and silver converted into coins of deities or put these to some other use
- 32 major shrines are under the control of Himachal Government
Interestingly, respective temple trusts have been incurring huge costs on ensuring safe storage of valuable offerings without deriving any benefit. The respective temple trusts can now submit proposals to the Department of Language, Art and Culture suggesting ways to utilise the offerings. The trusts will be free to either get gold and silver converted into coins of respective goddess or deity or put these to some other use, say officials. Pilgrims usually buy coins, bearing deities’ images, on visit to shrines.
The state government has been forced to amend the rules since the Minerals and Metals Trading Corporation (MMTC) no longer converts the offered gold and silver into coins. In the past, the MMTC, agency mandated under the rules, had been engaged by the government to convert gold and silver offerings into coins. An MoU in this regard had been signed with the MMTC a decade ago. As on date, 32 major shrines are under government control and their development and day-to-day affairs are managed by tehsildars, who function as temple officers. The Deputy Commissioner concerned is the chief temple officer.
“Since there was no provision in the rules for optimal use of gold and silver offered by pilgrims at temples and with the MMTC declining to convert these into coins, we will seek proposals from the temple trust for its best use,” says Rakesh Kanwar, Director, Language, Art and Culture.
The 32 temples under government control include Chintpurni (Una); Naina Devi, Lakshmi Narain and Maharishi Markanday (Bilaspur); Baba Balak Nath, Lakshmi Narayan and Shani Dev temple (Hamirpur); Jwalamukhi, Chamunda, Brajeshwari Devi, Ram Gopal temple Damtal and Shiv temple Baijnath (Kangra); Tara Devi, Jakhu, Sankat Mochan Hatkoti and Bhimakali temple (Shimla); Bala Sundri Trilokpur and Thakurdwara Devi temple (Sirmaur); Shoolini Mata temple (Solan); Maha Mritunjay temple, Navahi Mata Hanogi and Neelkhanth (Mandi); Manimahesh and Lakshmi Narayan (Bharmour); and Trilokinath (Lahaul-Spiti).
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