As devotees have been barred from darshan of Lord Venkateswara in the Tirupati temple since March 20 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Sri Venkateswara temple authorities have now decided to sell 'Tirupati laddu Prasadam' or the sacred offering among devotees at 50% discount in Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad and all district headquarters in Andhra Pradesh.
The 175 gram laddu, which is priced at ₹50 each, would be sold at subsidized price of ₹25 as a token of gift to the devotees in the COVID-19 lockdown period.
The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which manages the affairs of the world's richest Hindu temple, took the decision in view of the continuing uncertainty over resumption of darshan.
It has been two months since darshan was stopped for the devotees at the hill shrine in view of the lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19.
TTD Trust Board Chairman Y.V Subba Reddy said the laddu prasadam will be made available shortly at all TTD Kalyana Mandapams and information centres present in all the 13 district headquarters in Andhra Pradesh along with Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru.
He said resuming of Srivari darshan to devotees depends on the Central government's decision to lift the lockdown. "We have been receiving emails and phones on when we would resume darshan. But it all depends on the government's decision of lifting lockdown," he said.
Reddy said in spite of the lockdown restrictions, the devotees were generously contributing through e-Hundi and thus, expressing their immense devotion. During April 2020, the e-Hundi collection stood at ₹1.97 crore, an increase of ₹18 lakh over the contribution made by devotees electronically during the same month last year.
Devotees requiring bulk quantity shall have to contact the Srivari Temple Deputy EO on 9849575952 and Potu Peishkar on 9701092777 for their additional requirement whose delivery would be made at the TTD centres. The commencement of Laddu sale by TTD will be decided in two or three days.
Reddy also categorically denied media reports and social media messages that TTD was facing a financial crunch and was unable to pay salaries to the TTD staff. He said salaries had been paid for the past two months and would be given for May and June also.