Kerala HC flags pesticide residual in Sabarimala ‘aravana’, orders stop of distribution

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Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 11 (IANS) At the peak of the pilgrimage season to the famed Sabarimala temple, the Kerala High Court on Wednesday ordered the Travancore Devasom Board (TDB), which manages the shrine, to stop distribution of its ‘aravana’ (sweet) as the cardamom used in it contains pesticide residue more than the prescribed norm.

TDB President K. Ananthagopan said as soon as the orders came, it directed the temple authorities to immediately stop the distribution of ‘aravana’.

“Every mix of aravana which is around 300 kg, has cardamom consisting of a mere 750 grams and it is in this after scientific analysis from the state and the central laboratories, the presence of pesticide residue was more than 0.01 per cent, which is the accepted norm. Since the High Court has asked to stop distribution, we have stopped it. We have asked to clean the assembly line.

“Since the pesticide residue has been identified to be from cardamom, we have asked the production unit to see to resume production without using cardamom and that will be what will be distributed from tomorrow,” he said.

Ananthagopan, a senior CPI-M leader, also said that it is “unfortunate” that such a thing has happened at the peak time of our two-month-long festival season, especially when the most important day of the pilgrimage is on Saturday and we get the maximum pilgrims.

“For each pilgrim the most important thing that they carry back is the aravana and appom. We will now take up this issue after 14th on what to do next. Until then aravana will be made without cardamom,” he added.

Incidentally, the hilltop temple, which saw few pilgrims turning up in the Covid years, has, in this season, seen pilgrims coming in large numbers and after the offerings received in cash, the receipts from the sale of aravana and appom is a substantial figure.

Pilgrims who were waiting in the queue to buy their requirement of aravana expressed their displeasure when told about the court directive and they were given only the appom.

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