To propitiate Gods and Goddesses, Hindu devotees typically offer oil, flowers, coconut, incense and fruits. In a Kerala temple, however, a particular brand of chocolate is the reigning offering, so much so that the deity is affectionately known as Munch Murugan.
Devotees at the Thekkan Palani temple, on the outskirts of port town Alappuzha offer Munch bars to the deity.
Some overzealous devotees are offering chocolate bars equal to their body weight to please the God.
"Chocolate offering started three years ago. Since the deity is Balamurugan (child Balasubramanyam, son of Lord Shiva), one day a devotee brought some chocolates as an offering. Since his wishes were fulfilled, it became a custom here," said temple manager D Radhakrishnan.
Initially, only children used to bring chocolates, but gradually everybody joined in.
D Radhakrishnan said chocolates are given back to devotees as 'prasadam' like flowers and sandal paste after 'pushpanjali' or 'archana'. Chocolate is also used for rituals like 'thulabhara' along with other traditional articles like flowers and jaggery.