Office-bearers of the Sai Baba temple in Shirdi are used to finding gold, silver and precious stones in the temple’s donation boxes (hundi), so they were not unduly surprised when they found two diamond necklaces there. However, they were stunned when jewellers valued the diamonds at a staggering 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.
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 said 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 said.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 said.