Trustees expect the income of the shrine, which boasts lakhs of followers, to double. “Scores of businessmen who are devotees of Lord Ganesh promise to donate shares to the temple once their wishes are fulfilled. Just like most people make a mannat (oath) to give money or gold, these devotees make a mannat to donate shares if the value of their stock rises. In fact, some of them purchase a few shares especially for donation. They offer it to the deity as an auspicious beginning to their business transactions,” said Narendra Rane, chairman of the Siddhivinayak temple trust.
The trust has opened a demat account under the Union government’s Central Depository Services Ltd (CDSL) venture through SBICAP Securities, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SBI Capital Markets. Initially the electronic platform will only allow donation of shares of listed entities. Later it will extend to other financial instruments including mutual funds, bonds and gold exchange traded funds.A demat account allows devotees to directly transfer shares to another account. This seamless electronic transfer facility from anywhere could resolve the issue of devotees often offering physical share certificates.Rane said they got the idea from Tirupati temple, which had opened a demat account in August 2015. “That experiment earned a good response as a flood of donations began to pour in,” he said. The Prabhadevi shrine too expects its income to rise by 100% owing to this facility. Given the ease of transfer, devotees abroad can also donate shares.Rane clarified that Siddhivinayak temple will not begin trading in shares. “We will convert these donated shares into cash within a day or two, and the money will be deposited into our savings account as fixed deposits. This wealth will be used for our educational and healthcare charity projects.”