The Travancore Devaswom Board has started production of Aravana the payasom at its mechanised plant in the Sabarimala Sannnidhanam with a view to keep a buffer stock of 25 lakh cans (250 ml each) of Aravana by the time the Lord Ayyappa Temple opens for the annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrim season on November 15 afternoon.

The Devaswom Executive Officer at Sabarimala, V.S.Jayakumar, told The Hindu that as many as eight lakh cans of Aravana has already been produced as on Monday evening. He said TDB has stocked sufficient quantity of materials for the Aravana preparation at Sabarimala.

Mr. Jayakumar said the board has also initiated a fool-proof quality-control mechanism at Sabarimala to ensure the quality of materials, especially jaggery and rice, supplied by contractors for Aravana production.

The repair and maintenance of the automatic filling machine was completed a month ago and the installation of a modern jaggery melting unit and two more cooling chambers was fast progressing at the plant with a view to double its production capacity in the next one week itself, he added.

The Executive Officer said 85,000 to 90,000 cans of Aravana have been produced at the mechanised plant on a daily basis. With the installation of the additional cooling chambers and jaggery melting unit, it could be made 1,80,000 per day. Aravana will be in high demand at Sabarimala during the two-month-long Mandalam-Makaravilakku festival.

Bank to man Aravana counters

He said the Dhanalakshmi Bank has been entrusted with the task of Aravana ticket sales and distribution. The bank has made arrangements to sell Aravana tickets at its branches across the country and at

Sabarimala.

The bank staff will also man the Aravana distribution counters at the Sannidhanam, he added.

Mr. Jayakumar said as many as 75 lakh eco-friendly Aravana cans and one crore imported flip lids have been stocked at the Devaswom godown at Sabarimala.

Vazhipadu rates

Meanwhile, TDB sources told The Hindu that the board has submitted a proposal to revoke the recently revised hike in various Vazhipadu rates at Sabarimala on the basis of a direction issued in this regard by the Devaswom Minister, Kadannappally Ramachandran.

It is noteworthy that the TDB had revised the Vazhipadu rates at Sabarimala after obtaining the mandatory approval from the High Court four months ago.

The board authorities clarified that the rate hike was introduced with a view to check ‘middlemen’ fleecing the pilgrims in the name of supplying materials for various rituals at the holy hillock.