A photo of a bottle of 'Aravana payasam' manufactured by Al-Zahaa, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) based company is being shared with a false and communal claim that it is the 'Aravana prasadam' sold by Kerala's Sabarimala temple to devotees.
BOOM spoke to the Kerala Devaswom Board and Al-Zahaa who rubbished the claim and said that the viral bottle shows Aravana 'payasam' (sweet dish), commonly available and made in households and not the 'prasadam' (food offering) that is sold at Sabarimala temple.
The viral claim is a Facebook screenshot of a post by a Ramaiyer Srinivas where he tagged Bharatiya Janata Party supporter Suresh Kochattil with a photo of a bottle of Aravana Payasam as manufactured by Al Zahaa sweets. The text reads, "This is Aravana Payasam - a traditional sweet only available in Sabarimala Sannidhanam. It appears Kerala Devasom Board awarded the tender to a Muslim while in turn didn't hesitate to insult the tradition but only calling it with an Arabic name but terming it halal too..."
While Srinivas has since locked his profile, the screenshot of his post with the false claim has since gone viral on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.
The false claim is also being shared in Hindi in text that translates to, " The main prasad of Sabarimala, Aravana Payasam is now Islamic. Not just that, according to the Arabic words, it is also Halal. The benefit of govermnments being in possession of temples is also that prasad will also be halal now"
(Original text in Hindi - #सबरीमाला का मुख्य प्रसाद अरवाना पायसम..अब न केवल #इस्लामी है..बल्कि अरबी terminology अनुसार #हलाल भी है। मंदिरों पर सरकारी कब्ज़े का एक फायदा यह भी है कि आप प्रशाद भी हलाल करके मिलता है)
BOOM found that the claim is false and contacted the company Al Zahaa sweets and the Travancore Devasom Board which is in-charge of the Sabarimala temple, who rubbished the claim.
Is The Prasad Distributed At Sabarimala Manufactured By Al-Zahaa Sweets?
We first contacted the Travancore Devasom Board who said the claim is false and that the prasadam is made within the temple itself. Speaking to BOOM, BS Prakash, Commissioner of the board said, "The Aravana Prasadam sold at the temple is made by the temple employees only and not manufactured by any company or outsourced either." When asked whether the Aravana prasadam is available for purchase elsewhere he said, "You get the same kind of prasad in stores across but that is not the authorised or the authentic one made by the temple. The claim is false."
We also got a photo of the prasadam tin from someone who bought it in the temple premises. The tin does not look like the one seen in the viral photo.
What Does Al-Zahaa Manufacture?
BOOM spoke to Rashid, one of the owners of Al-Zahaa who rubbished the claim and said, the company was based in United Arab Emirates and manufactured various snacks and sweets. "Aravana in Malayalam means thick payasam made of jaggery and rice. We package and brand our product only as Aravana Payasam and not as the prasadam. Our brand Aravana Payasam has no connection with religion, caste or creed and is not connected with Lord Ayyappa or Sabarimala," Rashid said.
He added that Al-Zahaa was owned and operated by him and his partner Ajayan Kuttynair and denied that they had the contract to manufacture the Aravana Prasadam sold at the Sabarimala temple. "My partner is a Hindu and we are selling the payasam which is made in every household. We are only selling our product in UAE in supermarkets. What you get at the temple is the prasadam and we cannot use the same name for our product."
Rashid also sent us clearer photos of the bottle of Aravana Payasam. "If you see the photo you will notice it says payasam and not prasadam. That is because the payasam is very common and made by everyone. Also, the product does not say halal as being mentioned in some of the claims." Al
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