The temple of Lord Venakteswara in Tirupati, is continuously the most visited place, anywhere in the world. He is the most popular and one of the richest deity of the world.
We mention about this temple in our book, Telugu Talli – Her Unknown Side.
Boondhi and Vada
The traditional Prasad in the Tirumala temple is Boondhi sweet, and a large very dark brown thick crispy Vada.
Tirupati Vada and Laddu
Boondhi comes in loose form. In 1930s, it was decided to serve this sweet in laddu form.
Laddu is a sweet that we all relish. Laddu comes from the Samskrt word ladduka or lattika, meaning a small ball. This is due to the shape of this sweet, which is round in shape.
Tirumala Tirupati Laddu is the laddu prepared by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam offered to Lord Venkateshwara at the shrine in Tirupati, and is one of the most popular sweets in India.
4 Tirupati Laddus
The 4 Tirupati laddus include,
- Tirumala Laddu
- Tiruchanur Laddu, belonging to Sri Padmavathi Ammavari temple, the temple dedicated to the consort of Lord Venkateshwara, Devi Padmavati.
- Govindaraja Swamy temple Laddu
- Sirivasamagapuram Laddu
An offering and Prasad for the last 80 years
This sacred offering “Tirumala Laddu” was introduced in 1930s, and for the 80 years has been offered to the Lord, a Prasad that the devotees have been partaking.
Equal to visiting the Shrine
The sanctity of consuming this laddu is considered equal to visiting the shrine. Hence Tirumala laddu is always shared by devotees who visited the shrine, with their fellow beings, after a visit to Tirupati. This way all are able to partake of the grace of the Lord.
The common Myth
There is a common myth that Tirupati Laddu was introduced 300 years ago. This is not true as this laddu was first introduced in 1930s.
Sri Kalayanam Iyengar
The first ever Tirumala Laddu was made by Sri Kalayanam Iyengar, on the eve of Kalyana Mahotsava of the Lord in 1930s. He is popularly known as Laddu Iyengar, and lived between 1905 and 1976.
Sri Kalayanam Iyengar
In the 1930s, during a marriage function, when it was desired that the Lord’s Prasadam must be distributed to all attendees of the marriage, Sri Kalayanam Iyengar came up with this idea of making the boondhi into a laddo for the purpose of ease of distribution. This idea was liked by everyone and it caught on instantaneously. Since then, this special variety of laddu has become synonymous with Tirumala Laddo Prasadam.
This laddu soon became famous, and for many years was an integral aspect of Hindu marriage ceremonies.
This practice of making laddus had ever since then been continued by Sri Kalayana Iyengar’s family, in the temple compound, for many decades until 2001. In 2001, the Andhra Pradesh government abolished this Mirasdar system.
The task of preparing the laddus was then taken over by the Sri Padmavathi Ammavari temple.
So, this laddu is made of numerous ingredients that make up its delicious nature.
Dittam is the term used to indicate the ingredients that are used for preparing the laddu, which include,
- Sugar Candy
- Cashew Nuts
- Gram Flour
- Ghee, and
Three Varieties of Tirupati Laddu
There are three varieties of Tirupati Laddu.
- Proktham Laddu
This Laddu is distributed to the common pilgrims visiting the Tirupati Temple, and are small is size and weigh around 175 gms. They are prepared in huge quantities so as to cater to the thousands of pilgrims that visit this hallowed shrine every day.
2. Asthanam Laddu
Asthanam Laddu is prepared at the time of festive occasions, and comes in huge size, weighing almost 3/4th a kg. This variety has more ingredients almonds, cashews and saffron strands.
3. Kalyanotsavam Laddu
As the name suggests, this Laddu is prepared for the people who participate in Kalyan Utsavam. Kalyan Utsavam is the day when the celestial wedding between Lord Venkateshwara and His consorts Sri Devi and Bhu Devi is performed with their Murthis, as per the Vaikasa Agama Sastra. This festival is thronged by thousands of pilgrims, and hence the number of Kalayan Utsav Laddus prepared is large, even though they are small compared to the Proktham Laddu.
So where are these many quantities of laddus prepared?
Laddu Pottu is the kitchen, that is present adjacent to the temple, where these laddus are prepared. This kitchen consists of three conveyor belts that carry ingredients to produce the laddus, and transport the finished laddus to the selling counters.
This Kitchen, run by the Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanams prepare and average of one and a half lakh laddus everyday.
Often the devotees book darshan and laddus together on the internet.
Prasadam offered to the Lord
The prasadam offered to the Lord is made in a different Pottu. The mother of Sri Venkateswara, Sri Bahula Valli Thayar, is the presiding deity of this Pottu, and the laddus are prepared with Her blessings.
A laddu brand with a geographical tag.
The people who have relished this laddu know very well, that the delicious nature of this variety is unique, from all other laddus. The Tirumala Tirupati Laddu today is a very popular laddu brand. The Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam registered for a Geographical indication tag so that there is no black marketing in the name of this laddu. Thus, no third party can sell laddus in the name of Tirumala Tirupati Laddu.
The Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts – IGNCA has prepared a documentary on the Tirumala Laddu, whose production in such large numbers is today a marvel indeed.