While confirming that they have received such a letter from the RBI, top officials of some of the major temples said they were not taking any hasty decision on the matter without consulting the government and authorities concerned.
When contacted in Mumbai, the RBI spokesperson Alpana Killawala admitted that they have written to these temples but clarified that "the objective of the letter is to collect data and mentioned that in the RBI statement issued on September 1, there is no proposal under its consideration (to buy gold and bullion from temples)."
According to sources, those who received the query included the famous Sree Krishna temple at Guruvayur and the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages most temples in South Kerala including the famous Sabarimala hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa, visited by millions of devotees from within and outside the country during November-January pilgrimage season.
"This is for the first time that we are getting such a notice from the RBI. We have not decided how to respond to it as the temple managing committee is yet to be reconstituted by the government," a senior official of the Guruvayur Devaswom told PTI, requesting anonymity.
However, traditional trustees of the Guruvayur temple, who are the permanent members of the managing committee, will be meeting shortly to discuss the matter, sources said. Located in Thrissur district in central Kerala, Guruvayur is one of the richest temples in the country which has at its disposal vast reserves of gold and other valuables, offered by devotees over the years.
"We have a system to properly account the gold and other precious articles gifted to the temple by devotees of Lord Guruvayurappan. They are kept in lockers and records are well maintained," a temple official said.
The Hindu outfits in the state have come out strongly against the RBI move, alleging foul play behind it.A joint memorandum has been given by various Hindu outfits, some of them non-political, urging the Guruvayur temple administration to ignore the circular, sources said.