Ahmedabad, Oct 15 (IANS) Pounds sterling, dollars, euros, dirhams - Gujarat's revered Ambaji temple is flush with cash offerings in foreign currency after every Navratri.
For the shrine in Banaskantha district, about 180 km from here, which is visited by millions, true prosperity is measured not in gold but cash offerings, especially in foreign currency, made by Gujaratis living abroad.
According to figures supplied by the temple administrator of the Ambaji shrine, P.K. Jadeja, the cash offerings in foreign currencies by non-resident Gujaratis (NRGs) and non-resident Indians (NRIs) during 2007-08 were worth over Rs.2 million; in 2006-07 Rs.2.1 million and in 2005-06 over Rs.1.7 million.
'We don't have any other way to determine how many NRIs or NRGs had come except counting the dollars, pounds, dirhams, rand and euros donated by them,' Jadeja told IANS.
'As many as 7.5 million pilgrims throng the temple town every year. A large number of NRGs can be seen on two auspicious occasions - Bhadarvi Poonam and Navratri. However, it is during Navratri when the NRGs prefer to take holidays and the pounds and dollars are poured into the temple treasury,' he said.
Purviben from Canada said: 'My husband is a doctor and as bad luck would have it he fractured his leg that incapacitated him from going about his work. It was Ambe Mother's grace which helped him back on his feet and he is now perfectly well and doing his work normally. Ever since, we have been offering 10 percent of our income at Mother Ambe's feet and it is all in dollars.'
There are countless others like Purviben who offer money to the temple. 'By the goddess' grace we are what we are,' says Parulben Natwarlal Parekh, who hails from Kheda district.
Settled in Britain for over 30 years, Parulben is a regular contributor to the temple fund in British pounds, despatched regularly by registered post every year to seek the blessings of Ambe Mata. Her visit to her native place may not be frequent but her remittances come regularly.
'It is no sin if our heavy work schedule stops us from coming here. But Mataji understands,' she says matter-of-factly, adding: 'When we send the money we are sure her blessings are with us and we are very happy.'