As the decade's first Magh Mela commenced in Sangam area of Allahabad, a temporary branch of the 'Ram Naam Bank' has also started banking activities for its account holders.
The Prayagraj-based 'bank' neither has ATMs nor cheque books and its only 'currency' is Lord Ram. It has nearly one lakh account holders.
"The beauty of this branch is that it is set up during every Magh Mela and as the Magh Mela gets over with Shivratri, the branch of the bank also ceases to exist. The branch will be set up again next year," Ashutosh Varshney, the chairman of Ram Naam Sewa Sansthan which runs the bank, told PTI.
"The branch is set up mainly for kalpwasis (people observing austerity during Magh), who stay at the ashram set up by the bank in Sangam area, and write the name of Lord Ram on a 30-page booklet provided to them," Varshney said.
"The Sangam branch of the bank was set up on January 5, after performing rituals," he said.
The booklet given by the Ram Naam Bank, a non-profit organisation, has 30 pages, and each page consists of 108 cells, where the name of Lord Ram can be written.
Varshney, who manages the bank's affairs, is carrying on the legacy of his grandfather who had set up the organisation in early part of the 20th century.
The bank has no monetary transactions. Its members have a booklet of 30 pages, containing 108 cells in which they write 'Ram Naam' 108 times everyday in red ink as it is the colour of love. This booklet is deposited in the individual's account.
He said people write the name of Lord Ram in Urdu, English and Bengali.
"The divine name of Lord Ram is credited in the accounts. A passbook is issued like other banks. All these services are provided free of cost. Ram Naam Bank has ledgers and passbooks like any other bank, and maintains the records of its 'depositors'. The only currency that works in this bank is the name of Lord Ram," said Gunjan Varshney, one of the trustees of Ram Sewa Trust, which is also associated with the Ram Naam Bank.
She also said the size of one's account was determined by the number of times one was able to write the name of the Lord and deposit it in the bank.