In its reply to a Writ Petition filed before the Kerala High Court questioning the use of 'Halal' certified jaggery for preparation of 'prasad' at the Sabarimala Temple, the Travancore Devaswom Board has admitted that it procured 'Halal' certified jaggery in the year 2019-2020 for preparation of 'prasad'.
The Board has sought to explain the use of 'Halal' jaggery by saying that the Maharashtra based company from which it procured 19,96,034 kilos of jaggery, also exports jaggery to Arab countries, for which 'Halal' certification is necessary.
"An enquiry was made with the supplier company, regarding the HALAL marking and they replied that they are doing export of Jaggery and for doing export to Arab countries HALAL certification is necessary and for that purpose they have taken HALAL certification which is an assurance of maintaining standards of quality.", the Board has said in its statement filed before the High Court.
The Writ Petition was filed by S.J.R. Kumar, the General Convener of Sabarimala Karma Samithi, through Advocate V. Sajith Kumar, contends that the use of 'Halal' jaggery for preparation of prasad and "offering the same to the deity would amount to serious violation of religious customs and rituals followed at the temple from time immemorial".
With respect to the use of 'Halal' ingredient in the prasad, the Petitioner states in the Petition that, "In view of the recent controversy as regards spitting on food materials to make it Halal and the responses from religious scholars, people at large are highly anxious and obnoxious on the use of Halal certified food materials even for the household purposes. It is highly disheartening to see that the food materials prepared following the rituals and religious practices of another religion with its certification is accepted as food material for the preparation of Nivedyam/Prasada in a Hindu temple having its own rituals and customs".
Apart from the issue of 'Halal' ingredient in prasad, the Petitioner also raises the issue of violation of tender conditions in the procurement of jaggery by the Board. In addition, the Petitioner contends that stale jaggery was auctioned off by the Board for reuse, thereby endangering public health.
The Board has said in its statement that the stale jaggery was reauctioned to be used for the preparation of cattle feed and allied products.
However, the Board has not answered the allegation that the use of 'Halal' ingredient in prasad violates religious ritual and customs and religious rights of devotees of the Sabarimala Temple. Instead, the Board has alleged that there is a calculated attempt to attack the reputation of Sabarimala and destroy communal harmony and that the Executive Officer of the Sabarimala Temple has filed a complaint in this regard before the Sannidhanam Police Station.
A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court comprising of Justice Anil K Narendran and Justice PG Ajith Kumar had directed the Board to respond to the allegations in the Writ Petition on Wednesday, pursuant to which, the statement has been filed by the Board.
The matter is now expected to be listed on Monday before the High Court.