A fresh controversy regarding Sabarimala temple has broken out with many messages being shared on social media alleging that the erstwhile Pandalam royal family had started making appam (Unniyappam) and aravana (dishes made with rice and jiggery as offering to Lord Ayyappa).
One such message says that the Pandalam family has asked devotees to buy appam and aravana only from the counter run by the family. These messages received immediate attention as it comes at a time when Travancore Devaswom Board which runs the temple was forced to slash the production of appam and aravana due to the decrease in the number of devotees.
Most appam contractors at the temple are facing losses, while the aravana production has been cut down by 80 percent by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB). Also, there has been an orchestrated effort by right wing groups asking devotees not to donate money to TDB or to buy prasadam from TDB counters.
However, the Pandalam Palace Managing Committee has issued a statement refuting the news that the committee is engaged in making or selling of appam or aravana. â€śIt has come to the notice of the committee that a message has been widely spread on social media claiming that the familyâ€™s managing committee is making appam and aravana and using the income made out of that to meet legal expenses on the case relating to the entry of young women into Sabarimala. The family is not engaged in making or selling Appam or Aravana,â€ť the statement said.
The statement also warned that legal action will be taken against those spreading such messages.
However, the statement added that a member of the family had been producing and selling appam and aravan for years.
â€śA member of the family has been making and selling appam and aravana for years. We have also saw messages saying that the family trust is making and selling Appam and Aravana. But the family trust is not engaged in it. The trust has not issued any advice to devotees asking them to buy appam or aravana from a particular counter,â€ť President of Pandalam Palace Managing Committee, P G Sasikumar Varma, told TNM.
Meanwhile, TDB Commissioner N Vasu has issued a statement asking devotees to be cautious. â€śAn individual in Pandalam is making and selling appam and aravana in the pretext that it is Lord Ayyappaâ€™s prasadam. This trader based in Pandalam has also advertised that his prices are less. Such acts are illegal and in breach of traditions. Devotees should be careful.â€ť