Thousands of devotees who thronged the Indrakeeladri shrine got a major shock on Sunday when the laddu 'prasadam' meant for sale was found filled with worms and insects, exposing gross negligence on part of the temple authorities.
Following an uproar, Sri Durga Malleswara Swamy varla Devasthanam Executive Officer, A Surya Kumari, immediately ordered withdrawal of over 50,000 laddus. The incident once again highlighted the lackadaisical manner in which the Kanaka Durga temple, the second largest in the state after Tirupati, is managed.
Food inspectors from Vijayawada Municipal Corporation inspected the temple kitchen and seized samples of the laddus for an examination. The hill shrine of Indrakeeladri is the abode of Goddess Kanaka Durga who is the presiding deity of Vijayawada and lakhs of pilgrims visit the hill shrine during the nine-day Dasara festival.
As some two lakh laddus were supposed to be prepared to meet the festival rush so temple authorities started using an old portion of the hill shrine for preparation of the ladoos but it was filled with filth. After preparing nearly 50,000 laddus last night, the temple staff placed it in the hall for drying, completely neglecting safety and cleanliness.
Worms, moths, insects and other species swamped the laddus by the time the temple staff arrived this morning to shift them to the sales counters. They immediately alerted the Executive Officer who silently asked them to remove the lot and dispose it off in another place without putting it for sale.
But as word spread, devotees vented ire at the temple authorities over such a glaring negligence even as the food inspectors from the civic body arrived to seize the stock samples for examination. While the Devasthanam EO, the first IAS officer to be appointed to the post, did not comment on the issue, temple superintendent Ramesh said insects might have come in because of overnight rain.
"We have decided to stop the sale of these laddus and shift the lot to another place," Ramesh said. The festival committee members, who are workers appointed by the government, said they would ensure corrective steps are taken. "We have spoken to the Devasthanam EO and asked her not to allow the sale of these laddus," festival committee member Sankar Babu said.