SABARIMALA: Demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes has done nothing to diminish the revenue of the Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala. The deity's take during the first week of the peak pilgrim season of 2016-2017 stood at Rs 22.66 crore.
Pilgrim offerings in the temple's hundi were higher despite demonetisation. The first week's take this year was Rs 8.32 crore, up from Rs 7.22 crore last year.
According to the Travancore Devaswom Board [TDB], ayyappa's total revenue increased by nearly Rs 3 crore over last year.
“The total earnings during the corresponding period of last year's pilgrimage season were Rs 19.95 crore,” TDB president Prayar Gopalakrishnan and member Ajay Tharayil told the media here on Thursday.
This year, income from the sale of aravana prasadam was Rs 8.90 crore as against Rs 6.54 crore during the same period last year.
Revenue from the sale of appam prasadam was Rs 1.79 crore as against Rs 1.15 crore last year.
Further collections from pilgrims this year are likely to increase further, with the TDB introducing an electronic payments system at the shrine today.
Referring to the controversy over the renaming of the Sabarimala Sreedharma Sastha temple as the Sabarimla Ayyappa Swamy temple, the TDB president said the decision was taken when the UDF government was in power.
The Sabarimala temple has been referred to as the Lord Ayyppa temple in all manuals since 1950, he said. The renaming decision was taken in the best interests of the temple and with the objective of clearing doubts among devotees and the general public, he said.
Moreover, after the destruction of the Sabarimala temple, the reinstallation of the idol was performed by the then thantri in the
name of Lord Ayyappa.
Asked why Kerala's devaswom minister was not taken into confidence about the name change, Ajay Tharayil conceded that it was a lapse on the part of the board.