Dead lizard found in Sabarimala offering, Kerala police order probe
Kerala Director General of Police Loknath Behera on Monday directed the Additional DGP to inquire into the complaint of a devotee who alleged that he found a dead lizard in the packed tin of the Sabarimala temple’s main offering (prasad) ‘Aravana Payasam’.
Kerala police spokesman V P Pramod Kumar said the DGP had received a complaint and directed ADGP Parvesh Shahib to inquire into it and submit a report at the earliest. He did not give details of the complaint.
However, police sources said a pilgrim from Thiruvananthapuram has filed a complaint with the DGP saying he brought a bundle of offering (12 cans of payasam) after his pilgrimage and when he opened one of the cans on his return he found remains of a dead lizard.
Since the pilgrimage season is at its peak authorities are keeping their fingers crossed. But a temple spokesman suspected foul play and said offerings were prepared in most hygienic manner and all ingredients were cooked at high temperature boiling units.
The sale of aravana payasam - a black kheer made of rice, jaggery, ghee, coconut, cumin powder and cardamom, contributes at least 60 per cent of the temple’s revenue. During the pilgrimage season winding queues are visible at the temple and at times it takes hours to fetch the main offering from counters. Usually payasam-making unit starts production even before the pilgrimage season producing at least 48,000 cans of 250 gm ‘payasam’ a day and keeps enough buffer stock.
The latest complaint has cropped up at a time when production is at its peak. The Travancore Devasom Board, which runs the temple, is expected to make two crore tins of payasam this time.
This is not the first time the main offering is getting into a controversy. In 2004 a devotee had reportedly found the tail of a shrew in payasam tin. Despite a high-level inquiry no one was found guilty and but it forced the temple authorities to introduce modern equipment and more hygiene at the temple kitchen.
The temple had opened for three-month pilgrimage season on Nov 17 and it is witnessing a heavy rush these days. The temple and its base camps had witnessed violent clashes last year when the government tried to implement a Supreme Court order which allowed women of all ages to worship at the temple. But this year peace returned at the hill temple after the government decided to wait till a final verdict from the court which is reviewing its order. Last week the SC had referred the contentious issue of women’s entry into the temple to a larger bench of 7 judges.