FaithWorld

Pious Indians bank on holy deposits

(An employee counts Indian rupee notes inside a bank in Agartala, capital of India's northeastern state of Tripura December 31, 2010/Jayanta Dey)

In a bank with no security gates, guards or locks, deposits from thousands of customers from across India are stacked on shelves, protected from theft by the grace of God. In a cramped room in a small house in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Ram Ram Bank offers no interest or loans, but has around 5,000 customers who flock to deposit documents bearing God’s name.

“There is no need for security as there is no fear of any theft,” said Lovelesh Tewari, who founded the bank 25 years ago. “People feel better by writing God’s name as it becomes a medium to release their pent up frustrations and eventually the faith makes them work toward their goals.”

The bank’s customers scribble “Ram,” the protagonist in the Indian mythological epic Ramayana, on pieces of paper as many as 100,000 times and deposit them in the bank. Ram is also known as Rama. Ram Ram used to accept scribbles on cigarette packs or on pieces of old newspaper. But now Tewari provides proper notebooks for the purpose, courtesy of one of his customers.

Religion is no barrier. Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims write the name of Ram in their native languages. Every six months the stacks of “deposits” are sent to be displayed in a temple in Ayodhya, the birth place of Ram.

Hindus and Muslims worship side-by-side in Uttar Pradesh

News stories about Hindu-Muslim relations in India usually stress strains between followers of the two faiths. Here’s a short Reuters video from our partner ANI on Hindus and Muslims worshipping side by side in a temple and a mazar (mausoleum) in Uttar Pradesh state:

from India Insight:

Will Mayawati’s Brahmin card work this time?

Much has been written about Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati's inventive politics that saw her forging an unlikely alliance between Dalits and Brahmins -- from the two ends of the Hindu caste spectrum -- to win an election in Uttar Pradesh in 2007.

She did this with a promise to widen the appeal of her party beyond her traditional Dalit voters and bring Brahmins and other upper castes into her programme of all-round development.

As proof, she gave tickets to scores of Brahmins in 2007 and appointed a Brahmin (Satish Misra) as her chief adviser and strategist.