The ‘appam’ and ‘aravana’, the sweet ball and jaggery dessert, which are sold as prasadam (offering) at the famed Lord Ayyappa temple in the state, are set to get a makeover from the next pilgrim season. The Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), which provides guidance for making delicious ‘laddu’ and ‘panchamrutham,’ offered at the famed Tirumala Tirupati temple and Lord Muruga’s shrine in Palani respectively, are now gearing up to give a new touch to the prasadam of Sabarimala temple.
The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the hillock Ayyappa Temple, has roped in the CFTRI to enhance the quality, taste and shelf-life of the ‘appam’ and ‘aravana,'” which has large number of takers. Located atop holy hills of Sabarimala in Pathanamthitta district, the Lord Ayyappa shrine draws lakhs of pilgrims from and outside the country including foreigners during the annual pilgrim season from November to January.
TDB President, A Padmakumar said the temple would open for the monthly pooja on May 15 and an MoU between the Board and the CFTRI is expected to be signed on the next day. A team of TDB officials recently visited the government-run CFTRI’s Mysore campus to evaluate its production mechanism. “As CFTRI is a government agency, we have to decide and finalise the terms and conditions. We hope to sign the MoU with them on May 16,” Padmakumar told PTI.
The CFTRI experts would also impart training to the temple staff who prepare the prasadams during their visit, he said. If everything goes as planned, the ‘appam’ and ‘aravana,’ with the ‘CFTRI touch’, would be made available to devotees from the next pilgrim season, he said. The TDB, however, has no plans to increase the price of the packed prasadams.
The ‘Sabarimala Appam’ is a hard but sweet ball made of rice, kadalippazham (a variety of banana), ghee and so on, while ‘Aravana’ is a thick sweet dessert made of jaggery. Detailing the changes to be made to the prasadams, Padmakumar said there may not be much changes in the ingredients, but the overall taste would be enhanced.
At present, appam has a hard texture. It will become softer and sweeter. The thickness of aravana will be reduced. And the amount of jaggery, its main ingredient, will be reduced to 30-40 per cent,” he said. The method of preparation and packing would be changed under the guidance of CFTRI experts, who follow vacuum technology.
The TDB is also mulling entrusting CFTRI with the making of prasadams at all temples under its management, to ensure the quality and taste. A final decision in this regard would be taken after signing the MoU in connection with Sabarimala, the TDB president added. The CFTRI is one of the 40 national research laboratories in India, set up under the aegis of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).