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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Devasom board must fulfil responsibilities

The shortage of aravana continues to be severe in Sabarimala. Aravana is a blessing of the god. If devotees do not get this blessing when they leave after a glimpse of Ayyappa, they will be disappointed. Aravana of Sabarimala, chukku kashayam of Mookambika, palpayasam of Ambalappuzha, unniappam for Kottarakkara Ganapathi, etc, are special offerings.

Each god is believed to have a different personality. Sabarimala Ayyappan is believed to be an eternal bachelor. That is why 41 days of abstinence is prescribed before the holy sight. The food of devotees is also special. Papad and onion are excluded to keep their food pure and to prevent their minds from vacillating. This is also the speciality of the offering: It must inspire maximum belief in god. Aravana fully realises that belief.

The Sabarimala aravana is a special mixture. The mix is prepared by adding 8 kilos of jaggery, 200 grams of ghee, rock sugar, dried ginger powder and cardamom to 1 kilo of rice. From ancient days, aravana has been made in this manner. Even the rice in aravana is not fully cooked to prevent the loss of its purity. All the necessary ingredients, like jaggery, rice and dried ginger powder, are tested in a laboratory to ensure quality before they are used in production.

Once the aravana is made, it becomes the offering to god. It is not right to test the offering in a laboratory because it is an insult to god. If devotees believe that the food safety department made the move to mislead the court, they cannot be blamed. Sabarimala is the only temple where external forces interfere so much. Nowhere else it is possible. It has become a place where anyone can interfere. This is happening because the devaswom board is not fulfilling its responsibilities well.

This raises the question whether the eagerness shown to test the aravana is really needed in arranging other basic facilities. This eagerness is not seen in arranging transport and basic facilities. Devotees should come for the holy sight by purifying their bodies and minds and after making offerings to their ancestors at Pamba.
Are the authorities keeping an eye open to prevent the pollution of Pamba? No. But, why there is so much eagerness that is not shown elsewhere in the case of aravana? The devaswom board should be able to loudly declare that they can give devotees quality offerings made to god, and, likewise, arrange other basic facilities. Only then can devotees loudly oppose the intervention of external forces in Sabarimala.

It should be taken seriously that restriction is needed in distributing aravana as Mandala Pooja is nearing. When the temple opens for Makaravilakku, the rush is likely to increase further. Let us hope that this problem will be fully solved by then. The devaswom board should ensure that the Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala never finds a place in news for the shortage and the restriction of aravana.

The devotees are willing to follow the restrictions imposed on aravana distribution. The doctrine of Sabarimala is to consider a devotee as Ayyappa, or god. So, to ensure that everyone gets the offering, devotees will follow these restrictions. But, this obedience of devotees should not be seen by authorities as an approval of their inefficiency.

(The writer is the state president of Yogakshema Sabha)

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