Vendors at Durga temples prefer only cash payments

Vendors at Durga temples prefer only cash payments

PUNE: A year ago the entire country made the painstaking transition from cash to digital payments, coaxing every seller and buyer to opt for cashless transactions. Mobile wallet transactions also gained momentum, but a quick check around the Durga temples in Pune today reveals that 'bhakti' is still predominantly a cash-heavy sentiment. Vendors outside Chatuhshringi temple at Senapati Bapat Road and Bhavani temple in Bhavani Peth, who sell flowers and pooja baskets ranging from Rs 50 to 300 (for fancier ones), accept only cash. 

A spot check by Team Sakal Times found only one vendor accepting debit and credit card at the famous Tambdi Jogeshwari temple at Budhwar Peth. The remaining three major Durga temples in the city - Chatuhshringi temple, Bhawani temple and Shree Mahalaxmi Mandir near Sarasbaug have shopkeepers accepting only cash. 

The lone crusader, Sanjay Arde who sells pooja baskets and accessories at Tambdi Jogeshwari temple said, “We are in this business for 80 years and last year when PM Modi announced that India will go cashless, we started accepting card payments. The Navratri festival was over by the time PM's announcement came, but we thought that this year people might prefer cashless transactions this festival season," he said.

However, Arde admitted that people have gone back to using cash and very few prefer to pay via cards. 

Nandakishor Borate, pooja basket seller at Bhawani temple said, "There is no point in installing card swipe machines or installing wallet payment applications as the pooja basket barely costs Rs 150 to 300 and mostly people carry money with them. No one has even asked us to accept payment through mobile wallet apps."

Even the long established flower and pooja basket sellers at Mahalaxmi Mandir use cash. Subhangi Shindekar,  basket seller at  Mahalaxmi Mandir, said, “For 34 years I am selling these baskets and even if the mode of payment  changed, there was no reason to worry because devotees make payments only through cash as the basket costs less than Rs 500.”  

Outside Chatuhshringi temple, vendor Sarika Khedkar said, “There are 15 vendors at this location, but not a single vendor accepts card or Paytm. We knew that by the time Navratri festival begins this year, devotees will go back to the usual routine of cash payment. So we did not put our energy in installing card swipe machines or wallet payment applications in our mobiles.”

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