Shirdi: Precious items offered by devotees at the Saibaba temple here will be put on auction this week. These include gold and silver crowns, statuettes, garlands, `padukas` (sandals), necklaces, diamonds and precious stones.
Saibaba, Maharashtra`s most famous saint, lived and preached in this small town in Ahmednagar district over a century ago.
The auction -- the third in the last 10 years -- will include 32-kg silver offerings, 18-kg gold offerings, 52 precious stones and articles studded with them, a Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust (SSST) spokesperson said.
The auction`s first phase will start Oct 18 (Thursday).
The auction will continue for two more Thursdays next month.
This is the first auction of the temple riches after a committee appointed by the Bombay High Court took over the SSST management in March.
"Instead of melting the gold and silver, we have found that devotees prefer to buy these items and own them," an SSST official, who did not want to be named, said.
Keeping in mind devotees` sentiments, the auction is being held before Dussehra and Diwali to enable them buy and take home the offering made to Saibaba, the official said.
The first auction will be for silver items, the second for gold (Nov 1) and third for precious stones (Nov 8).
To keep out frivolous bidders, the SSST will ask bidders to deposit a refundable amount of Rs.10,000. Successful bidders will be been given multiple payment options.
The official said all the items have been tested and certified and the quality of the goods was as per lab standards.
Revered by millions worldwide, Saibaba lived in and around Shirdi in Ahmednagar district. He died Oct 15 in 1918.
The SSST, counted among the richest temple trusts in the country, has assets worth above Rs.20 billion, besides daily donations and offerings running up to Rs.12.50 million.