Devotees wishing to savour the taste of Tirupati Balaji temple’s Pongal Bhog need not travel to the Tirumala hill in Andhra Pradesh. A visit to the city’s Mahavir Mandir can help fulfil their wish.
The city temple on Monday introduced this special bhog from Tirupati temple, the abode of the most revered Tirupati Balaji, who is a re-incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the Kaliyug, and one of the country’s richest temples.
Pongal Bhog, which is mainly made of rice, pulse, jaggery, ghee, tamarind, cumin seeds and some other spices (see box), is one of the most important offerings given to Lord Venkateswara in the Tirupati temple and is available in four different forms.
Mahavir temple is making a considerable profit with the Naivedyam laddoos, which is another main prasad (offering to God) at Tirupati temple. According to the officials of the temple administration, the Naivedyam laddoos help earn around Rs 2 crore for the temple every year.
Sheshadri has been assigned the job of co-ordinating with the sweetmakers to get Pongal Bhog prepared. Mahavir Mandir prepared Pongal Bhog for around 500 people on Monday, who savoured the bhog and were all praise for the temple administration.
Amit Kumar, who came with wife Komal, said: “The administration deserves appreciation for introducing Pongal Bhog. I feel extremely privileged to have got the chance to eat the prasad the day the temple introduced it.”
A smiling Komal said: “The best part of this prasad is that all the four items in this bhog have different tastes. From sweet to sour and spicy, it has got every kind of taste.”
Vishwanath Prasad, a septuagenarian, said: “I don’t know whether I would get the chance to visit Tirupati temple or not. I am happy to have got the taste of Pongal Bhog of Tirupati right there.”
Acharya Kishore Kunal, a former IPS officer, the chairman of Bihar State Board of Religious Trusts and the secretary of Mahavir Mandir Trust, which runs the temple, said the administration decided to introduce Pongal Bhog of Tirupati temple only after the success of Naivedyam laddoos.
“We have brought 30 sweetmakers from Tirupati to make the Pongal Bhog. They have prepared this bhog for several years. I don’t think anybody else would be adept in making the prasad. Special care is taken while making the prasad and Tirupati sweetmakers are aware of the technicalities involved in cooking this special bhog of Tirupati,” said Kunal.
He added that the temple administration couldn’t provide the Pongal Bhog to people free of cost because its preparation is costly. Like Naivedyam laddoos, which are sold in different packets and variable rates, devotees would have to pay a fixed price for Pongal Bhog.
“They would need to deposit Rs 1,100 to be provided Pongal Bhog. The bhog would be first offered to Lord Hanuman at the temple. Only after that, it would be provided to the devotees who have deposited money for it.”