The queues before the cash counters in city banks have become longer since the past few days. This is not because the ATM machines have gone cash dry, but due to the demand for fresh and crispy currency notes by devout Hindus who are gearing up for Lakshmi Puja, the god of wealth.
Sources in the banking sector said during Lakshmi Puja, celebrated on third day of Deepavali festival, there will be huge demand for crispy notes keeping the bank cashiers busy. The banks get fresh notes from RBI a month in advance to meet the demand. Though the banks will not able to meet the full demand of customers, they will try to provide atleast half of the fresh currencies.
While many ask for fresh notes while drawing cash, others exchange their old notes to new ones. The banks do not charge any fee for that and the exercise is seen as a goodwill gesture to keep their customers happy.
People are heading in large number for banks seeking of fresh currency notes of Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 100, Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denominations. Speaking to Express, some of the banks employees said that they have distributed upto Rs 8-15 lakhs in the last one week.
While the fresh notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 are sought by businessman and Marwaris, others mostly ask for Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 100 denominations.
People seek fresh notes as they refuse to use the old ones for puja. They think that by changing hands, they have become 'impure'.
Kiran, an employee of a nationalised bank said: 'The demand has gone
up for the fresh currency notes. We have already distributed more than
2 lakh of fresh notes in last three days. The demand for Rs 10, Rs 20,
Rs 100 notes are in rise, compared to Rs 1000.'
Another Bank Employee Dev Prakash said they have distributed more than 5 lakh currency notes and still people are coming seeking fresh notes. 'There
are even instances people who seek huge amount of fresh notes are sent
back as we are not able to meet the demand.'
The money will be used for decoration purpose, such as backdrop of Lakshmi Kalash, to make lotus formation and others designs. Santosh Jain said that: 'The festival is celebrated grandly by Marwadis, businessman and, gujaratis who also distribute alms and sweets to people. We perform abhisheka for Silver and Gold coins on that day, while fresh notes are kept in cash boxes, and used for decoration of Goddess Lakshmi praying her to keep the cash box brimming throughout the year.'
Keshava Murthy, a priest, said: 'Lakshmi Puja is considered as very auspicious. The festival falls on Amavasya, third day of Deepavali, and people worship Goddess Lakshmi seeking wealth and prosperity, and well being in business. Some of the people who don't get fresh notes use the coins, and there are even households who have coins collections and use the coins every year only on the day of Lakshmi Festival.'