‘Satti Aravanai' offered to Lord Ranganathar, a great attraction
Why is Lord Krishna fond of butter? Butter denotes purity and the Lord gobbles up butter just to convey the message that He prefers true devotion that is as pure as butter.
Curd is churned after adding water to prepare buttermilk. Buttermilk is further churned to take away butter. Butter is the pure essence of milk and that is why butter is heated and the ghee is poured on rice to make it pure before consumption. Thirumangai Azhwar in his Siriya Thirumadal, says, ‘Aaaradha Vennai Vizhunghi ; arugirundha moraar kudamurutti' (Krishna gobbles up butter and kicks out butter milk pots) Since butter milk is prepared after adulterating water with curd, He hates the same and prefers butter for its purity.
Lord Ranganathar of Srirangam, however, does not have any such preferences and He takes whatever is offered to Him. Aandal, out of Her love for Lord Ranganathar, prayed to Lord Kallazhagar and made a vow that She would offer Him 100 pots of Atkaaravadisal (jaggery with rice) if she was married to Lord Ranganathar. Atkaravadisal is offered to Ranganathar even today to symbolise Aandal's love. If Atakravadisal symbolises Aandal's love, Roti and butter are offered too, as a mark of Lord's acceptance of love displayed by Thulukka Nachchiyar, a Mughal princess, who came to Srirangam all the way from Delhi and settled down in his shrine. The Lord even sports a striped dhothi similar to a lungi on the day when Namperumal visits Thulukka Nachchiar shrine.
If Atkaravadisal and Roti are considered offerings of His lovers, Aandal and Thulukka Nachchiar respectively, there are people who have turned His lovers after tasting the temple naivedyams and prasadams. Vaishnavites do not call the offerings, naivedyams and it is Thaligai for them.
Lord Ranganathar wakes up to the pleasant music of Veena played by the member of Araiyar family and later pasurams from Thondaradipodi Aazhwar's Thirupalliezhuchi is sung.
At 8.30 a.m., butter and milk are offered to Him. Later, Venpongal, Dosai, Kariamuthu (Poriyal) and Thirumaal Vadai are offered along with Lemon pickle. During 13th century, there was an exclusive department in the temple to prepare pickles. Pepper, not chillies were used to prepare them.
Owing to the strong smell of pepper, people dreaded to venture into this pickle kitchen and it is said that valuables were hidden in this kitchen to save them from the invaders. Besides the pickle, there is a special medicine offered by the Dhanvantri shrine in the temple along with sukku and Vellam (ginger and jaggery). This custom has been stopped now for reasons unknown. During mid-day aaradhana, 18 padis of cooked rice, sathumadhu (rasam) kariamudhu , Thirukannaamudu (Payasam) and Athirasam are offered to the Lord.
In the evening, Ksheerannam (Rice cooked in milk), Milk pongal, Vadai, Appam, Thenkuzhal, Kariamudhu and Dadhiyodhanam (Curd Rice) find space in the holy menu.
As night sets in, the Lord is offered Atkaara vadisal, kariamudhu and Satti aravanai (a type of payasam). Between 9.15 p.m. and 9.30 p.m., a combination of cardamom, naatu sakkarai and pachchai kalpuram added with saffron is offered as dessert. And then, the Lord retires for the day.
Crowds throng the temple to taste the Satti Aravanai, and those who have tasted it, are sure to remain Lord's lovers forever like Aandal and Thulukka Nachchiar.