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Last Updated: Friday, 18 August 2006, 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK
Golden throne for Indian shrine
By Monica Chadha
BBC News, Mumbai

Sai Baba idol at Shirdi temple
The idol of Sai Baba is currently seated on a silver throne
An Indian temple in Maharashtra is to build a solid gold throne for holy man Sai Baba, whose statue is housed there.

About 251kg (553lb) of gold will be needed, at an estimated cost of nearly $4.8m (220m rupees,2.5m).

Nearly 40,000 devotees a day visit the temple in the small town of Shirdi, about 300km (186 miles) away from the state's financial capital, Mumbai.

The chairman of the temple trust said many devotees wanted the current silver throne replaced with a gold one.

The throne should be completed within six months, Jayant Sasane said.

Generous donations

During holidays and on auspicious occasions, the number of visitors often passes 100,000, trust officials said.

Sai Baba temple in Shirdi
The temple gets nearly 40,000 visitors every day

"They would often tell us that the throne of Sai Baba which is presently in silver should be made in gold," Mr Sasane said.

"We also felt that his statue seated on a well-designed gold throne will give the people coming here from far off places something more to look forward to."

Mr Sasane said the trust already had 90kg gold donated by devotees over the last four to five years and they will be raising money to get the remaining amount required for the throne.

"We have already opened an account called Sai Sinhasan Donation or Sai Throne Donation and have received about $166,666 (7.5m rupees) from various followers from India and abroad, but more so from people within the country," he said.

He also said they had invited various people to submit designs for the throne.

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