Office-bearers of the Sai Baba temple in Shirdi often find gold, silver and precious stones in the temple's donation boxes (hundi), so they were not overly surprised when they found two diamond necklaces there. However, they were stunned when jewellers valued the diamonds at a shocking rate of Rs 92 lakh!
This is the first time in the history of the temple that such forbiddingly expensive valuables have been anonymously deposited in the donation boxes. Usually, large donations are made directly to the trustees, according to ‘TOI’ report.
Apart from cash and coins of different countries, the donation boxes are usually full of gold and silver ornaments, and precious stones. "Between April 1 last year and March 31 this year, devotees donated 223 diamonds, gems and pearls to Sai Baba. The total cost of these valuables was Rs 1.06 crore. However, the two diamond necklaces are alone worth Rs 92 lakh," said Dilip Zirpe, head of the temple's accounts department.
Zirpe informed the donation boxes were opened on April 21 and the valuation was done two days later."As per tradition, we do a valuation of the donations through registered evaluators twice a year," he added.
According to Mumbai-based jeweller Naresh Mehta, one of the three members of the expert committee that evaluated the stones, the diamonds are extremely valuable. "One of them is 6.67 carats (brilliant cut) and the other is 2.5 carats (emerald cut). Together, their value is Rs 92 lakh," he further informed.
Currently, the temple trust is directly headed by a Bombay high court committee. Bajirao Shinde, CEO of the trust, said the court will decide what is to be done with the diamonds.
Shirdi Sai Baba temple is considered one of the top five temples in the country on the parameters of donations and wealth. The trust is planning to celebrate the 100th year of Sai Baba's samadhi next year. Several religious and cultural activities will be held during the Saibaba Punyatithi Ustav from 2017 to 2018.