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Mohanthal Vs Chikki: all you need to know about the Shaktipeeth Ambaji Temple Prasad controversy

On March 11, Gujarat Health Minister Rishikesh Patel supported the Shaktipeeth Ambaji Temple administration in changing the prasad from Mohanthal to Chikki. He added that Chikki has a longer shelf life and can be eaten on the days of fasting too.

The decision of Shaktipeeth Ambaji Temple, Gujarat, to distribute Chikki as Prasad instead of Mohanthal has attracted much criticism from the devotees and Hindu organisations, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Hindu Hitrakshak Samiti. Here is all you need to know about the controversy.

On March 4, after the temple announced that Mohanthal, a traditional sweet Prasad, would be replaced with Chikki, Hindu Hitrakshak Samiti held a meeting and requested the temple administration to revoke the decision. The Hindu organisation gave 48 hours to the temple administration to act. However, after the 48-hour timeline, the Hindu organisation met again and postponed the protests in view of the Hindu festival Holi.

The change in Prasad from the traditional Mohanthal to Chikki at Shaktipeeth Ambaji Temple led to protests and outrage. Mohathan is a traditional sweet of besan (gram flour), sugar, ghee and milk. It is a traditional Gujarati sweet and has served as a prasad at many temples, including Ambaji temple, for many decades. Chikki is a brittle sweet made with jaggery and nuts, usually peanuts or sesame seeds. The temple administration said the shelf life of Mohanthan was only 8 to 10 days. On the contrary, Chikki can be stored for up to three months. The administration said it would benefit a lot more devotees. Chikki Prasad can be sent via courier as well, the temple administration said.

It was claimed that from time to time, devotees raised demands for dry prasad and Chikki would solve the purpose. Such dry prasad may be made available at other prominent temples such as Somnath and Tirupati, where laddoos (also with lower shelf life) are offered as prasad to devotees. The chikki prasad of the Ambaji temple can also be sent outside of India to NRI devotees. Banas Dairy and Amul Dairy were being contemplated to give contracts for the preparation of Chikki.

Gujarat Government came in support of Chikki Prasad

On March 11, Gujarat Health Minister Rishikesh Patel supported the Shaktipeeth Ambaji Temple administration in changing the prasad from Mohanthal to Chikki. In his statement, the health minister said, “People do not take Mohanthal despite it being prasad as they believe that Mohanthal cannot be eaten during fasting on auspicious days such as Agiyaras or Poonam (full moon). Because of this, the temple administration has decided to offer chikki prasad instead.”

Speaking about the shelf life of chikki, he said, “The shelf life of Mohanthal is only eight to ten days while the shelf life of chikki prasad is around three months.” He further added that prasad is a matter of faith and not taste.

The health minister added that it is believed that the Chikki that is supposed to be distributed as prasad is similar to what is available in the market. However, it is made out of a special kind of Mawa and peanuts. He said the prasad could be stored for up to three months, carried in bulk, and sent online. Speaking about further benefits, he said chikki prasad could be delivered anywhere in India and abroad. Furthermore, he noted that the sale of chikki prasad is the same as that of Mohanthal.

In a statement, the Collector of Banaskantha claimed that the administration received a lot of representations and opinions regarding prasad, after which the decision to change prasad to chikki was taken. He added that dry prasad would not spoil and could be kept for a long time.

Later, Former Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said in a statement that the matter of Prasad at Ambaji Temple was between Devotees and the Trust. The Gujarat Government was working to settle the issue.

VHP demanded Mohanthal as Prasad at Ambaji temple

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) also supported the demand to resume Mohanthal Prasad at the temple. VHP Gujarat General Minister Ashok Raval said in a statement that he met the government officials, and they assured the Trust would sort the matter out. He expressed his displeasure over the statement issued by the Health Minister.

On March 11, VHP National Spokesperson Vinod Bansal noted on Twitter that VHP Gujarat regional chief Ashok Raval protested against the decision.

Referring to the statements the government officials gave about the Prasad controversy, Raval requested the Chief Minister of Gujarat to ensure the state ministers do not give any statement that may anger the Hindu devotees.

VHP and Bajrang Dal Gujarat teams are distributing Mohanthal Prasad demanding to resume it at Ambaji Temple.

Over 200 kgs of Mohanthal distributed to mark the protest by devotees every day

Instead of protesting against the decision, a group of devotees distributed 200 KG of Mohanthal Prasad daily. In an OpIndia Gujarati exclusive, it was reported that the devotees chose the unique way of protest by distributing Mohanthal. A Twitter user PariPinkBerry tweeted about it saying, “Unique protest by Maa devotees in Ambaji against the decision to stop Mohanthal in Prasad and give Chikki. The local devotees received donations from Hindus and started offering Mohanthal to the devotees who came for darshan. 200 KG of Mohanthal is made and distributed every day for the last three days.”

Ambaji BJP Vice President resigned

Amidst the controversy, Sunilbhai Brahmbhat resigned from his post. Speaking to OpIndia, Sunilbhai, a devout worshiper of Ambaji, confirmed that the reports were true. He said, “These videos are true. I am in the videos. We have a team of 20-25 devotees who are doing this work. For the last three days, the devotees coming to Ambaji are not deprived of Mohanthal Prasad. We ourselves make around 200 KG of Mohanthal and distribute it among the devotees.”

He added, “There is a lot of anger among the devotees over the decision to distribute Chikki instead of Mohanthal. We all repeatedly submitted applications in this regard at many places but the decision to distribute Chikki was not revoked after nine days.” Sunilbhai pointed out that oil has been banned in Ambaji temple premises for centuries. However, Chikki has substances that contain small amounts of oil. He called Chikki against the ages-old tradition.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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