Temple-cum-bank that never witnessed loan default

Temple-cum-bank that never witnessed loan default

Residents of village Sangla in Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh flock the village temple to seek a loan from the temple.

The backyard of an ancient temple, in interior Himachal Pradesh, doubles up as a bank in summers giving collateral-free loans to natives.

The loan is handed out to people from the donations offered in cash to the temple deity.

Interestingly, at the time when banking frauds and payment defaults galore, this temple-cum-bank of sorts is yet to come across a single case of default in repayment of loans.

This picturesque temple, Barang Naag in Sangla village in Kinnaur district, some 250-km of hill drive from Shimla, opens up its coffers for loans to natives for one month every year in June.

The temple is currently underway with the disbursement of loans to natives, who flock the temple premises to meet their financial needs, Varinder Singh Negi, former deputy director of Youth Service and Sports (YSS) and a village native, told DH. “The loan facility by the temple will end in the next few days. There has never been a default payment since the money is given on trust. It’s considered inauspicious to do a fraud from the money given by the deity,” Negi said.

The temple gets an annual donation in excess of Rs 50 lakh and offers small short-term loans.

Noida-based educationist Poonam Minhas, who visited the temple as part of an information-gathering tour on still-in-vogue hinterland traditions, told DH that natives are given loan for a period of one year.

“They have to first return the entire loan amount along with interest in June. After two days, they become eligible to seek the loan once again for a period of another year,” Poonam Minhas said, adding that the revenue by way of the interest swells the cash reserves of the temple.

"This way, the available cash to be disbursed as loan increases every year,” she said.

Sangla village has two panchayats with a population of about 10,000 inhabitants. It's the trust that has kept this tradition on, Negi said.