Indian temple accepts shares from devotees

The Siddhivinayak Temple Image copyright Wikimedia/Darwinian
Image caption The Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai: Now accepting share certificates

A temple in the western Indian city of Mumbai has set up a bank account so that worshippers can donate company shares instead of money.

The Siddhivinayak Temple, which reportedly counts the rich and powerful among its devotees, has opened the demat account - an electronic facility for passing virtual share certificates between investors - so that people can give offerings to the Hindu deity Ganesh in the form of company stock and securities, Press Trust of India news agency reports. The account is provided by Mumbai-based investment bank SBICAP Securities so that people can make donations other than cash or gold. "We want to send the message that we accept shares as well," said Narendra Murari Rane, the chairman of the trust which runs the temple.

The temple is visited by tens of thousands of worshippers each month, and its new electronic banking service means that those wishing to make a share donation can do so from anywhere. According to The Hindu newspaper, there are future plans to allow the market-savvy faithful to give mutual funds, bonds and gold exchange-traded funds. In the past, temples have found it difficult to dispose of physical share certificates.

Speaking to New Delhi's Financial Express newspaper, SBICAP managing director Mani Palvesan said: "The initiative will enable lakhs [hundreds of thousands] of devotees to present their alternative financial offerings in a timely and convenient manner". The Mumbai temple follows another in the south-eastern state of Andhra Pradesh in the electronic securities market.

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