God with a sweet tooth: Bala Murugan in this Kerala temple is a chocolate fan!
- Munch garlands, Munch para and Munch thulabharam are the main offerings in the temple
- Temple is known as Thekkan Palani or Palani of the South
- The custom began six years ago after a child got his wishes fulfilled after he offered Munch to the god
Hindu gods are often associated with their favourite food. Krishna is fond of butter, Ganesh loves laddus and Ayyappa famously loves ghee. But Bala Murugan (baby Murugan) of Chemmoth Sree Subramaniya Swami Temple in Alappuzha is a die-hard fan of chocolates! The god is particularly fond of Nestle Munch, and is known by the name 'Munch Murugan'.
The temple at Subramaniapuram, on the outskirts of Alappuzha, is known as Thekkan Palani temple or Palani of the south, as the lamp and deity were brought from Palani Murugan Temple in Dindigul. During exam season, anxious students and parents flood the temple with cartons of chocolates to seek the blessings of Lord Bala Murugan.
Temple authorities said the custom began almost six years ago. A boy came to the temple and insisted that he needs to offer his favourite chocolate to his beloved god. It is said that his wishes were fulfilled. After that, children began to leave chocolate bars as an offering, especially during examination period. Soon, everyone followed and started bringing chocolates to please Bala Murugan and to get their dreams realised.
Earlier, the garlands made of lemons used to be the primary offering at the temple. Now Nestle Munch garlands replaced them. Chocolates are offered in boxes, individual packs and as garlands. Devotees also offer ' Munch para' (offering in a traditional measuring vessel that could contain approximately eight kilogrammes of rice) and ' Munch Thulabharam' (offering equal to the body weight of devotee).
Now, the temple authorities are facing a problem of the plenty as people flood the temple with chocolate candies. To deal with the problem,the temple has started to return candies to devotees as ' Prasadam' along with sandalwood paste and flowers.
The Munch Murugan temple is gradually becoming a busy pilgrim spot attracting devotees irrespective of caste and religion. Pilgrims from other states and foreign countries also come by with cartons of chocolate seeking Bala Murugan's blessings.