Tuesday December 12, 2017

Tirupati laddu is now 300 years old!

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Hyderabad: The Tirupati laddu, given away as ‘prasad’ at the hill shrine of Lord Venkateswara at Tirupati, has entered its 300th year. Temple officials say the sacred offering was introduced on August 2, 1715.

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No pilgrimage to the world’s richest Hindu temple is complete without the laddu, made from flour, sugar, ghee, oil, cardamom and dry fruits. The mouth-watering sweet is the most sought after prasad after prayers to Lord Venkateswara.

Although the temple offers various types of ‘prasad’, the laddu is more popular among pilgrims.

According to the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which manages the affairs of the hill shrine, about ninety million laddus were given away to pilgrims in 2014.

The normal price of a 300 gram laddu is Rs.25. The TTD says that use of quality ingredients makes it costly but it sells laddu at a highly subsidised rate.

As a privilege to pilgrims, two laddus are issued at a further subsidized rate of Rs.10 each.

The temple authorities issue laddu token to the pilgrims after collecting the money. The sweet is also made in Delhi and some state capitals on special occasions.

The sale of prasad is a major source of income for the temple, which had a budget of Rs.2,401 crore for fiscal 2014-15.

TTD had projected an income of Rs.190 crore from prasad sale, the same as the income expected from sale of human hair of pilgrims who tonsure their heads.

The laddu is in great demand on special occasions.

The authorities sell the prasad round the clock during Brahmotsavam. Last year, about 1.8 million laddus were sold in the first seven days of Brahmotsavam, breaking all previous records.

The authorities make elaborate arrangements to ensure uninterrupted supply of laddus to the pilgrims. They have the capacity to produce 300,000 laddus a day but they keep sufficient stocks during Brahmotsavam.

Nearly 620 people, including 270 cooks, work in the laddu and other prasad making units.

The TTD took up modernisation of the temple kitchen last year with the installation of two escalator belts for laddus and boondi crates.

TTD Joint Executive Officer, K.S. Sreenivasa Raju said that the conveyor systems have the capacity to transfer up to 800,000 laddus every day.

The Office of the Registrar of Patents, Trademarks and Geographical Indications in 2014 awarded the Geographical Indication (GI) status to the Tirupati laddu.

TTD officials said they had to enforce GI rights as some small-time miscreants as well as large known sweet outlets have been selling laddus with names similar to ‘Tirupati laddu’.

The Madras High Court in 2013 restrained a sweet stall in Chennai from using the brand name ‘Tirupati laddu’.

The TTD had argued that ‘Tirupati laddu’ has its own sanctity as it is offered at the feet of Lord Venkateswara before being made available to devotees.

According to TTD, over 22.6 million pilgrims visited the temple during 2014. They offered Rs.831 crore in ‘Srivari Hundi’.

The temple also earned Rs.655 crore from interest on money deposited in national banks in fiscal 2014-15.

The temple has deposits of over Rs.12,000 crore besides 32 tonnes of gold ornaments.

(IANS)

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Tirupati Temple to assist govt gold monetization scheme

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New Delhi: In a bid to back Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s gold monetization scheme, the Tirupati Temple would soon deposit idle gold for recycling purpose. The aim of the move is to reduce economy-hurting imports.

However, the scheme of the Prime Minister had not garnered much response with meager deposits from institutions and temples.

But, the over 5,000 years old Tirupati Temple, which is also known as Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple, became the biggest depositor with 5.5 tonnes of gold.

Executive office of the trust that runs the Tirupati temple, Sambasiva Rao, acknowledging the deposit, said the temple had already deposited most of its gold with banks under monetization schemes offering 1 per cent interest.

“The temple investment committee will evaluate and whichever scheme is beneficial we are going to do that,” Sambasiva Rao said, adding the temple will move its entire hoard to Modi’s programme if convinced.

The temple would take a final decision in the next 10-15 days, Rao mentioned.

The cash-strapped Triputi Temple gets almost one ton of gold every year as offerings from devotees.

Countless devotees in India, seeking blessings, offer jewellery, bars, coins worth billions at the altars of various Gods in temples across India. Most to the trusts that run the temples do not declare these assets which they keep in clandestine vaults.

The new monetization scheme floated by the Narendra Modi government offered 2.5 per cent interest on the gold and was expected to lure in deposits.

“It’s a good scheme,” said Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, the finance minister of Andhra Pradesh, adding, “we (the Andhra Pradesh government) had already issued a directive to go for the scheme.”

With an insatiable craving for gold, India ranks firmly in the second spot after China in global gold consumption. And this leads to a costly import of gold resulting in a trade deficit.

However, Mumbai’s two-century-old Shree Siddhivinayak temple, which houses Lord Ganesha, was reluctant to deposit their gold citing that the banks accept gold after it was melted down which leads to the loss of its weight.

(Picture Courtesy: http:www.bajajcapital.com)

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Want to attain salvation? Donate generously in shrines

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By Ishaa Srivastava

Think about how Hinduism manifests itself in large sections of our society. The idea of India is heavily impregnated with the multitude of its religious identity. Religious devotees and pilgrims dedicate much of their time, money, and resources in the fervent service of God. They undertake pilgrimages to places like Amarnath in dangerous terrains, enduring much physical pain. They part with their wealth, indulge in daily prayers, and renounce their possessions to be in God consciousness.

The idea of renouncing possessions and making a ritualistic offerings in a temple may seem vague to many, but it is a great form of devotion towards God. The idea behind making an offering in a shrine is a reflection how one is willing to part ways from materialistic things. It should be seen as an act of detachment. A first step towards detaching oneself from the materialistic world.

Those who have undertaken a journey in South India, maybe familiar with how thousands of people offer their own hair at the Tirumala Tirupati Temple, an act that absolves one from all ego and repays the debt to God. A lot of Hindu temples also receive massive donations (in cash or gold) from Indian and NRI devotees, which  is used for the temple infrastructure, food for devotees, or other charity work.

The Sabrimala pilgrimage (Ayyappan pilgrimage) attracts millions of male Hindu devotees from Kerala, and South India as a whole. Preparations for the pilgrimage usually start in November, and the pilgrims adhere to a vratam, a 41 day period of abstinence. This is akin to the Kavar Yatra undertaken in the sacred month of Saawan (July to August) by Shiva devotees (Kaavariyas) in north India.

Many partisans have of course, gone beyond and gone astray with the whole concept of sacrifice fundamentally. Commercialisation of a few temples in India takes away the piety of a place of worship. One is reminded of Nepal; the nefarious killing of 100,000 animals during the quinquennial Gadhimai Festival which last took place in 2014. Before we point our finger, however, remember there have been horrendous cases of sacrificial rituals in our own country. In 2002, for instance, 105 children were buried alive for ‘just one minute’in Perayur Village, Tamil Nadu, during the Kuzhi maatru thiruvizha—or the festival of the pits. Family members ‘bury’ their own children in the hope that their wishes will be fulfilled.

Where do we draw a line between moralistic rituals as social practice and an actual unquestioning, spiritual devotion to God?