IANS, Wednesday, November 22, 2006
There seems to be no end to controversies at Kerala's famous Sabaraimala temple: the latest is the discovery of spiders and cockroaches in ghee that is used to prepare prasadam or offerings distributed to devotees.
A security inspection drive in the temple by a team of police officials Wednesday found that the ghee kept in the kitchen contained spiders and cockroaches, Superintendent of Police S. Srijith, special officer at the temple premises, told IANS.
'As soon as my officials saw this, I was informed and I also saw it for myself. Immediately, I asked the food inspector on duty to submit a report,' said Srijith.
Travancore Devasom Board, which looks after the temple, said the ghee was not meant for prasadam.
'Devasom officials said that the ghee was to be destroyed and not meant for cooking,' said the police official.
'The role of police in this case is limited. It is the responsibility of the Devasom to decide whether there should be any further inquiry. If there is a probe, then police would come into the picture,' said Srijith.
This is not the first time that the cleanliness at the temple kitchen has come under scanner. A rat's tail was found in prasadam a few years ago.
The temple, one of the most important Hindu pilgrim centres in India, was in news in June after Kannada actress Jaimala said she had entered the temple in 1987 and touched the deity – violating the age-old temple tradition that bars women in the menstruating age from entering it.
The pilgrimage season here began Nov 17 and will end Jan 15, with a break in mid-December.
The temple, situated in the Western Ghats at an altitude of 914 metres, is accessible only by foot from the foothills of the Pamba river.
Of the earnings in cash and kind from devotees that crossed a record $12 million last year, a sizeable sum comes by way of the purchase of prasadam by the pilgrims.