6.65L Sabarimala Aravana cans to be destroyed without hurting sentiments & attracting elephants

A can of aravana prasadam from Sabarimala temple. Photo: Shutterstock/ AjayTvm

The Travancore Devaswom Board has issued a tender notification for the scientific disposal of Aravana, a sweet concoction sold as an offering to the devotees at Kerala's famous Sabarimala temple. The High Court had banned the sale of Aravana after pesticide content was found in cardamom used for the preparation of Aravana in January 2023. A total of 6,65,127 containers with aravana have been kept in the godown at Sannidhanam. The estimated worth of the stock is around Rs 5.3 crore.

The notification lays down specific conditions for the disposal. It has to be scientifically disposed after transporting the containers outside Pamba for disposal or else it would attract wild elephants in the Sabarimala region. Besides, parts of aravana containers having the logo of Lord Ayyappa should not be disposed/exposed publically, as the same may hurt the sentiments of devotees, reads one of the conditions of the tender notice.

Aravana has been stored in containers made of paper and sealed with an aluminium lid with a capacity of 250 ml each. It has been instructed that the containers should be handled very securely as it is not consumable due to the expiry of its shelf life. The project executing agency must ensure that the containers should be transported to Pamba and then to the disposal area at their responsibility and cost. It should ensure that the aravana should not reach the general public since it is not good for consumption. 

The agency will have to follow health, safety and environment (HSE) requirements at the site of disposal and ensure implementation of measures to avoid environmental pollution and shall ensure adherence to relevant local body requirements.

A project official said that they are dealing with the disposal of such a huge quantity for the first time and hence scientific methods are being explored. ''We have laid down specific conditions because of the magnitude of the task. We got a huge quantity to be disposed and it has to be done in a way that doesn't attract elephants or hurt religious sentiments. The cost required for the disposal will also have to be finalised after receiving the proposals,'' the official said. 

In 2023, the TDB decided to distribute the aravana without cardamom after the High Court had ordered it to stop selling the batch with pesticide content. Later the Supreme Court granted permission to the board to dispose of the stock of aravana which had become stale. Lakhs of devotees from Kerala and neighbouring states visit Sabarimala annually during the pilgrimage season.

Lord Ayyappa devotees at Sannidhanam to witness Makara Jyothi. Photo: Manorama
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