The delicious handmade "panchamirtham", the prasadam made out of five fruits and pure sugar and sugar candy, in the famous Lord Muruga temple at Palani hill shrine in Tamil Nadu might give way to the mechanised fruit mix as the temple administration plans to set up a high-tech automated plant to make it.
'Panchamirtham' of the Dhandayuthapani Swamy temple was famous like the "laddu" of Lord Venkateshwaraswami temple of Tirupati and regarded as the oldest form jam.
Temple authorities told pti that their main objective to introduce the automated plants was to produce the prasadam in an hygienic condition.
Established at the cost of Rs 1.5 crore, the machine would not only help make the process of the prasadam easier but also it would increase the production as the demand was increasing day by day.
The temple authorities claimed that the taste of the prasadam produced by the machine would not vary time to time as it was there during the manual process.
As many as 13 workers would be operating the machine. The panchamirtham ensures a long shelf life and keeps it suitable for conumption even without refrigeration.
"If the seal of the prasadam pack is opened, it can be suitable for consumption within a week. If it is not opened it it is fit for consumption within a month", they added.
Trial production had already started, the officials said.
The temple officials said if the panchamirtham is produced manually, the taste of the mix may vary from hand to hand. "Now, the devotees will not see any such difference as machines are used for its prepartion ", they said.
Currently, the prasadam is packed manually while the crushing and mixing are partly automated.
The ingredients of the prasadam are Viruppacchi plantains from famous Kodaikannal hills, dates, raisins, pure sugar from Kangeyam, Sugar Candy, Cardamom and Ghee.
The 500 grams of the temple's fruit mix comes in two packs-- food grade plastic jars and sealed aluminium foil tin at a price of Rs 25 and Rs.30, respectively.
The automated units have a chain of crushing, mixing filling and packing machines and the production was expected to commence in the first week of next month.
The trials have proved that the machines can prepare the fruit mix and would give an output of 2,000 (500 gms) tin per hour.
Currently the temple is getting about Rs 10 crore from the prasadam every year. With the automated production, authorities expect to double the income.
More than two lakh devotees visits the hill shrine every month and the number tripled during festive seasons.