Court restrains auction of offerings to Shirdi Saibaba
The auction of offerings at the Saibaba Temple here, scheduled in three phases starting Thursday (Oct 18), has been cancelled after the Bombay High Court stayed the process, a temple trust official said.
"The Bombay High Court has stayed the proposed auction and accordingly it has been cancelled until further orders of the court," said an official of Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust (SSST).
The official declined to give more details of the cancellation of the auction, which had generated tremendous enthusiasm among Shirdi Saibaba's devotees in India and abroad.
Now, it will be conducted at a later date after the permission of the high court, the official added.
Valuable gold and silver crowns, statues, garlands, padukas, necklaces, coins, diamonds and precious stones and other articles offered at the Saibaba Temple by devotees were due to be auctioned this week onwards at the temple premises.
The proposed auction - the third of its kind in the past decade and the second in five years - had included 32 kg of silver offerings, 18 kg of gold offerings and 52 precious stones or articles studded with precious stones.
The first phase of the auction was to begin Thursday, Oct 18, considered the 'punyatithi' (death anniversary) of Maharashtra's most famous modern saint, Saibaba, who lived and preached here over a century ago, and was expected to continue on another two Thursdays in November.
This was the first auction announced after a high court (Aurangabad Bench) appointed committee took over the SSST management in March this year.
Revered by millions worldwide, Saibaba, a wandering saint, lived in and around Shirdi town of Maharashtra's Ahmednagar district.
He died Oct 15, 1918, leaving behind legions of followers and devotees.
Since the past nearly a century, Shirdi has become a thriving pilgrimage centre and every day tens of thousands troop to his shrine and other sacred spots associated with the life of the sage who lived his life like a mendicant and had followers of all faiths.
Counted among the richest temple trusts in the country, the SSST has assets in excess of Rs.20 billion, besides daily donations and offerings running into around Rs.12.50 million.