MUMBAI: Five members of the Jain community collectively donated over Rs 11 core to light the funeral pyre of a revered monk who passed away in the early hours of Sunday.
Jains offering huge sums to carry out the last rites of saints may not be new, but Sunday’s bidding is believed to have broken all previous records.
Shri Premsurjiswaji, 97, was the chief of Tapagachha sect and had administered ‘diksha’ (a pledge renouncing family and worldly pleasures) to thousands of community members across the country during his lifetime. He died of pneumonia and other age-related ailments at Saifee Hospital, said sources.
Jains consider it to be a great honour to associate themselves with the funeral of eminent monks. Other than lighting the pyre, bids are also held for many other rituals. Money collected from bidders is used for religious and charitable activities.
Sunday’s bidding, which was held at the Babu Pannalal Jain temple in Walkeshwar, went on for three hours. A renowned doctor, a builder, and three leading Jain businessmen offered Rs 11,11,11,111 to light the funeral pyre, said a source who witnessed the practice.
The bid for the four pallbearers closed at Rs 21 lakh each, while an equal amount was offered for the right to keep water-filled silver pots in the four corners of the palkhi (bier). The funeral procession started from Babu Pannalal Jain temple.
Amid a sea of people, the palkhi carrying the body of Shri Premsurjiswaji in a sitting position was taken to a ground behind the Panchsheel Plaza building on Hughes Road for cremation. Nearly 300 kg of sandalwood was used to prepare the pyre, said sources.
The five community members, who had earlier offered to pay Rs 11.11 crore, lit the pyre around 4.30 pm. A temple will come up at the cremation site, said a member of the Jain community.
Bids depend on following
The community doesn’t invite bids at every monk’s passing. In many cases, funerals are performed by local Jain associations.
However, big money is offered to perform last rites of monks who have a huge following.
In July, community members bid a collective Rs 7 crore for the final rites of Shri Madvijay Ravindrasuri Maharajsahebji, who passed away at Rajgarh in Madhya Pradesh.