The adage that best things in life are free is really true when you experience the prasadam served at Tirumala. It is not a meal which does not only feed the body, it also feeds the soul. When one can see beyond the teaming masses of people spilling through every way possible to have a sight for a split second of the Almighty. The sight of the belief, that comes from every devotee is palpable.
I had been going to Tirumala for eons and have seen the various transitions. In the last 5 years, the facilities have improved tremendously. I first want to acknowledge that because it is a monumental task to manage the tremendous crowd that pours in on a daily basis and more on holidays. We, myself included, are quick to point out what does not work, that the bathrooms are not cleaned, the long queues, the rush. We fail to notice the organization that has to work behind to make our stay comfortable and the darshan – divine. A notable mention should be made to the ‘Volunteer Sevaks’ in addition to the TTD emplpoyees, who are there serving us, helping us in selfless ways. It is wonderful to see the engagement of the commoner in helping another one on the other side of the table.
Coming to the meal that feeds the body and soul, the prasadam served at Tarigonda Vengamamba center is a divine experience. All of us may not be able to see God in the idol, but each and every one of us can see him in the food that sustains us daily. The new center that has been built by the generous grants of the Raj Vegnesna foundation has made it very efficient. We do not get to see the inner workings of the mega kitchen that must be feeding us, but if the quantity and the quality of food is anything to go by, then they must be managed very effectively with strict standards.
The premises are clean and well maintained and they are huge. There is almost no wait time to get into the dining hall, with the exceptions of the big crowd days. The moment you enter, one sees rows and rows of shining steel tables and stools with the banana leafs spread out ready with the servings of a chutney, a curry and a dessert. Then the trolleys come with steaming rice. That is followed by a steaming sambar. The only thing is that we should be alert and be prepared for the their pace. Within five minutes, rasam is served. Everything is exceptional but if I have to pick one dish, it would be the rasam. The balanced proportions of sour and spice is perfect.
A complete and nutritious meal which feels like a blessing.