Ayodhya: There is a unique bank here in the land of Lord Ram where money does not matter and the only return its 35,000 account-holders get is peace of mind, faith and spirituality! Catching the attention of the devotees and tourists visiting the newly constructed Ram temple is "International Shree Sitaram Bank". The deposits here are booklets with "Sitaram" scribbled on all pages.
The spiritual bank, which was set up in November 1970 by Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, the chief of the Shri Ramjanmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust, has over 35,000 account-holders in India and abroad including the US, the UK, Canada, Nepal, Fiji, the UAE and other countries.
The bank has a collection of 20,000 crore 'Sitaram' booklets from the devotees of Lord Ram.
According to Punit Ram Das Maharaj, the manager of the bank, the number of daily visitors at the bank has increased after the consecration ceremony of the grand temple last month.
"The bank provides free booklets and red pens to devotees and keeps track of each account. One has to write 'Sitaram' at least 5 lakh times to get an account opened in the bank and then a passbook is issued.
"There are 136 branches of the bank across India and even abroad. The account holders also send us the booklets by post and we maintain the ledger here," Puneet Ram Das told PTI.
He said the visitors also question the benefits of writing Sitaram and depositing it into bank.
"I tell them that the way we visit temples of gods and goddesses for inner peace, faith and virtue, in the same way, writing 'Sitaram' and depositing the same into the bank is a form of a prayer. Don't we say that God has his own account of everyone's good and bad deeds? This is something similar.
"The devotees find solace and profound spiritual enrichment in writing, chanting and reminiscing Lord Ram's name," he added.
Puneet Ram Das explained that it is believed that by writing the name 84 lakh times, one can attain 'Moksha'.
Jeetu Nagar, from Gaya in Bihar, who has been visiting the bank for 14 years, said this is his only form of prayers.
"Instead of praying at a temple, I practice this and it has always worked for me whenever I have felt low or have been in a trouble. I write it throughout the year and deposit at the bank once a year. There is an option to send by post too but I prefer to visit myself," he said.
Nagar said he has already deposited booklets with a name count of 1.37 crore.
Suman Das, another account holder from Bareily in Uttar Pradesh said, he has scribbled 'Sitaram' 25 lakh times.
"When I told my neighbour about the bank, he thought I must be crazy but I have strong belief. Whenever I do the writing, I feel lighter and I feel that my prayers are being listened to," he said.
A new idol of Lord Ram was consecrated at the grand temple in a consecration ceremony on January 22 led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Lakhs of people watched the "pran pratishtha (consecration)" ceremony on television in their homes and neighbourhood temples, becoming part of the historic event held just months before the Lok Sabha elections.