Cheating the gods (?) : 70% of the silver offerings at Vaisnodevi impure, gold tallies 22%
Many of us have seen men cheating men but have you heard about cheating the gods? Yes, It happened at famous Vaishnodevi shrine
The Vaishno Devi shrine is visited by over one crore devotees every year. In a recent report, around 22% of 193 kg gold offerings and 70% of 8,163 kg of silver offerings by devotees in last five years, were found “impure” according to the shrine board.
Mandeep Bhandari, Chief Executive officer (CEO), Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine Board (SMVDSB), told PTI, “As many as 78% of 193.5 kg of yellow metal and 30 per cent of 8,163 kgs of white metal offered by devotees at cave shrine of Mata Vaishnodevi during last five years is pure gold and silver respectively,” he said.
The official said that the offerings are divided into yellow and white metal categories as their purity is unknown. While the yellow metal is sent to Indian Government Mint, Mumbai, the white metal is sent to Minerals Trading Corporation of India Ltd, Delhi for refining, assaying and fabrication.
Only 150.5 kg of pure gold was retrieved from the yellow metal offerings which constitutes 78 per cent of 193.5 kgs of yellow metal offered, CEO said, adding 43-kg of yellow metal was found to be impure.
Similarly, out of 8,163 kg of white metal offerings received by the shrine between 2008 to 2012, only 2,381 kg of silver was retrieved which constituted 30 per cent of total white metal. Queried over an RTI reply, he said it can’t be said the metal offerings were “fake”.
“How can we know that offerings by the devotee are pure gold or silver or not. The offerings could be of anything and directly go to deposit chest after it is presented at cave.”
During last five year, as many 193.5 kg of yellow metal and 8,163 kg of white metal was offered at the cave shrine of Mata Vaishnodevi, he said, adding that “we do not not call the offerings as Gold and Silver as offerings do-not carry a certification of its purity by the devotees”.
“The chest (Dhan Patra) is opened and the offerings are sent to Mumbai and Delhi,” he said. After that precious metal offerings are converted by Indian Government Mint, Mumbai and Minerals Trading Corporation of India Ltd, Delhi into gold and silver coins which the devotees buy as souvenirs, he said.