With uncertainty continuing as to when the darshan will resume, authorities of the Sri Venkateswara temple atop Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday decided to sell the famous 'Tirupati laddu Prasadam' or the sacred offering among devotees at 50% discount across Andhra Pradesh and in the capital cities of neighbouring states.
The laddu, weighing 175 grams, will be sold for Rs 25, against its actual price of Rs 50 on normal days.
The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which manages the affairs of the world's richest Hindu temple, took the decision in view of the continuing uncertainty over resumption of darshan.
It has been two months since darshan was stopped for the devotees at the hill shrine in view of the lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19.
TTD Trust Board Chairman, YV Subba Reddy said the laddu prasadam will be made available shortly at all TTD Kalyana Mandapams and information centres present in all the 13 district headquarters in Andhra Pradesh along with Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru.
He said resuming of Srivari darshan to devotees depends on the Central government's decision to lift the lockdown.
"We have been receiving emails and phones on when we would resume darshan. But it all depends on the government's decision of lifting lockdown," he said.
Subba Reddy said that in spite of the lockdown restrictions, the devotees were generously contributing through e-Hundi and thus, expressing their immense devotion.
During April 2020, the e-Hundi collection stood at Rs 1.97 crore, an increase of Rs 18 lakh over the contribution made by devotees electronically during the same month last year.
Subba Reddy said that responding to devotees' generous contributions to e-Hundi, TTD decided to resume laddu prasadam sale and offer 50% discount.
Devotees requiring bulk quantity will need to contact the Srivari Temple Deputy EO on 9849575952 and Potu Peishkar on 9701092777 for any additional requirement, whose delivery would be made at the TTD centres.
The commencement of laddu sale by TTD will be decided in two or three days.
The TTD Chairman dismissed reports in a section of the media that TTD has no funds for even the maintenance of the temple and to pay salaries to its employees.
"I have already clarified on this and reiterate now that we have no scarcity of funds and there will not be any problem to pay salaries and pensions to our employees, as well as for maintenance. As per state government norms, we have paid March and April salaries and are ready to pay salaries for May," he said.