Shree Vaari Prasadam

Shree Vaari Prasadam

In earlier days, rice prasadam was offered to Lord Venkateswara as Naivedyam. It was called ’Manoharam’. Rice powder and jaggery was mixed together to prepare this prasadam. There was much patronage from devotees for this prasadam. The preparation and distribution of ‘kondantha’ (just like hill) laddu started in a rather funny manner. The pooja, Lord Venkateshwara’s Nithya Kalyanam started in the year 1940. As per custom, Laddu is served in this pooja for lunch / dinner in every house. Tirumala  Tirupathi Devasthanam(TTD) management Laddus were prepared with sugar and offered to the Lord. From 1943, the laddus were offered as prasadam to those who participated in Kalyanothsavam. The laddus were prepared of cashew nut, green cardamom, etc. The prasadam was distributed once to devotees who visited the temple on Saturdays. Later the management of the temple felt that it was not fair to distribute the same type of laddus to both, devotees participating in Kalyanamahotsavam and for those in Dharma Darsanam. Big size laddus were given to those who participated in Kalyanamahotsavam. There was demand from devotees that laddus be sold to devotees. Giving in to this demand, sale of laddus was started on a daily basis. Since then, Lord Venkateswara’s prasadam in the form of laddus are receiving unprecedented liking from devotees. Though there was change in sizes and tastes of laddus no difference in sales was observed.

Mirasi System
Initially, the Mirasi’s system was observed for preparation and supervision of laddu prasadams. People who prepared the laddus in the kitchen (Potu) were called as Gamekar Mirasis. Out of the 51 laddus that were prepared, 11 laddus were given to Mirasi Brahmin families. TTD management was against this system and hence approached the court to eradicate the Mirasi system and after a long fight, they succeeded. Mirasi system was abolished. The total rights on laddus were given to TTD.

In the kitchen, Prasadams were prepared using fire wood which changed from 1984 when gas was used for this purpose. During Mirasi period about 200 to 300 people were required to prepare the prasadam. At present, the staff of TTD kitchen (Potu) is only about 150 people. Previously only 65000 to 75000 laddus were prepared. This number was less than half of the demand from devotees. Another kitchen was started by floating tenders. Here, another 65000 to 70000 laddus are prepared and hence, the demand of devotees is met. On special occasions like UGADI the kitchen (Potu) prepares special laddus and offers to God. Until now, the biggest laddu offered to Lord Venkateswara was of 32 Kgs in weight.

The list of ingredients and the proportion in which they are to be used is called Dittam. Six times, there were changes made in Dittam. At present the cost of preparation of each laddu is Rs 13 . Though many modern methods were implemented in the speed and quality preparation of laddus, they have not yielded good results. Few old techniques are still followed in this process to create authenticity. Apart from this, storage of the laddus is the real issue. As Tirumala is cold place, the humidity in the air is high. Hence laddus cannot be stored for a longer period. Due to heavy demand, laddus are sent to sales counters immediately after preparation. TTD is studying the feasibility of shifting the kitchen and changes to improve the quality of the prasadam. Tirupati Laddu is a spherical-shaped sweet prepared out of flour, sugar, nuts and other ingredients which give it a unique taste. In fact, Tirupati and the laddus are synonymous. It is customary of a devotee returning from Tirupati Balaji Temple to distribute ‘laddu’ as prasadam to his neighbors, friends and relatives.

 
Some quick facts about Tirupati Laddu:
  • Around 150,000 laddus are prepared each day.
  • One laddu is given free to each devotee; the number of daily devotees visiting the temple is around 50,000.
  • A devotee can buy two extra laddus – laddus costs Rs. 50/- each
  • The revenue from the sale of laddu annually is more than 11 million rupees.
  • Each laddu weighs around 150gms and is huge as compared to the normal laddus sold in shops.
  • There is a super huge Tirupati Laddu known as Kalyana Laddu and it weighs around 500gms – ½ a kilogram.
  • Single largest laddu made is said to have weighed 32 kg.
  • The tradition of Tirupati Laddu is nearly 300 years old.
  • It is prepared by special hereditary priests known as archakas in special temple kitchen known as ‘potu’.
  • Ingredients used in Tirupati Laddu are Besan flour (kadalai mavu), Sugar, Cashew nuts, Cardamom, Ghee, Oil, Sugar candy, Raisins and Almonds.

On a single day:
  • Around 5000 kg of Besan flour is used.
  • Sugar -10000 kg.
  • Cashew nuts - 600 kg
  • Cardamom - 150 kg
  • Ghee - 300 litres
  • Sugar candy - 400 kg
  • Raisins - 540 kg
  • The ingredients are bought at the auction held at Commodities and Spices Exchange in Kochi.

Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTDs) the administrating body of the temple is planning to patent the Tirupati Laddu to stop counterfeits soon.