Twitter user Indu Makkal Katchi shared a photo of Aravana Payasam packaged in a jar that reads ‘Al Zahaa Sweets’. Aravana Payasam is the traditional offering given out to devotees at the Sabarimala Temple. It is being claimed that the offering is being manufactured by a Muslim company that has rebranded it with an Arabic name and termed it halal. (Archive link)

Ratan Sharda, author of ‘RSS: Evolution from an Organization to a Movement’, also tweeted the image. (Archive link)

A screenshot of a Facebook post by one Ramaiyer Srinivasan promoting the same claim is also being circulated online. It is worth noting that the user’s account is private.

Several Facebook users promoted the image and accompanying claim.

Fact-check

Aravana is listed on the Kerala government’s website as the traditional offering distributed at Sabarimala. The website states that the prasad can also be delivered through India Post. In the image below, the canned package of Aravana Payasam can be seen in the top left.

A picture of the Aravana Payasam can is also given on the India Post website. In addition, the Religion World website features another version of the can with a slightly different label. In both the images below, the label reads ‘Travancore Devaswom Board’, not ‘Al Zahaa Sweets’, with ‘Aravana Prasad’ written below.

Alt News found a link to Russian map service 2GIS while searching for Al Zahaa Sweets, through which we discovered that this is a sweet shop located in Dubai along with the company’s WhatsApp number. We reached out to them and were informed that the company has never shipped its products to Sabarimala.

Rashid, Business Development Manager of Al Zahaa Sweets LLC, told The Quint that their popular product ‘Aravana Payasam’ has nothing to do with any religion, caste, or creed. Neither is it linked in any way to the deity Ayyappa or the Sabarimala Temple. He also clarified that the company does not have any tender or contract with any company or board in India or Kerala.

The Quint report quoted Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) commissioner BS Prakash as saying that the viral claim is false. He explained that the offering is prepared only by the temple officials, and this work has not been outsourced to any company or organisation.

Alt News reached out to TDB SI via email. The officer also wrote that Dubai-based Al Zahaa doesn’t provide Aravana payasam at Sabrimala and confirmed that the offering is exclusively made by TDB. The email also said that a complaint has been registered by the local police.

To sum it up, social media users circulated a false claim suggesting that the Sabarimala Temple’s traditional offering is being manufactured by a Muslim company.

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About the Author

Archit is a fact-checking journalist at Alt News since November 2019. Previously, he has worked as a producer at a TV news channel and as a reporter at a leading English-language daily. In addition to work experience in media, he has also worked as a fundraising and communication manager at an NGO.