’Palani Panchamirtham’, is a prasadam or devotional offering dedicated to Lord Murugan given at the Dhandayuthapani Swamy temple in Palani town of Dindigul district in Tamil Nadu.
This temple prasadam has earned Geographical Indication (GI) tag in August, 2019 and this was the
first time a temple ‘prasadam’ from Tamil Nadu got the GI tag. Geographical area meant for the production of Palani Panchamirtham is not just confined within the temple premises, but the entire Palani town in Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu.
The Geographical Indication tag refers to the tag conferred upon an Indian product which affirms that the product is indigenous in nature. The GI tag secures that the product can only be made within that particular territory or territory, which will eventually increase the success of indigenous products, by providing a geographical identity. Going by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), conditions required for the application of a GI tag is that the product should possess a given standard quality, reputation, or any other distinctive feature that is attributable to its geographical location.
Palani Panchamirtham is a combination of five natural elements banana, jaggery, cow ghee, honey and cardamom in a particular proportion. Incidentally, the term ‘pancha’ in Tamil language means five, and ‘amirtham’ refers delicacy. For additional flavour, dates and sugar candies are also added besides the five main ingredients discussed above. The prasadam is prepared in a natural way without adding any preservatives or any artificial ingredient and is not subjected to any chemical process.
Palani temple also attracts large number of devotees from various parts of the world especially the Tamil diaspora living in Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka and thus the whole process of making the panchamirtham has been automated to ensure proper hygiene is maintained.
29 GI tags have been issued in the state of Kerala as a result of the Palani Panchamirtham, which was initially a prasadam or devotional offering presented to the devout at the Dhandayuthapani Swamy at Palani, which is semi-solid in nature, where not a single drop of water is added. This gives it its traditional semi-solid texture and flavour. There are no artificial additives or preservatives utilised. Five organic ingredients make up the panchamirtham: banana, jaggery, cow ghee, honey, and cardamom. For flavour, dates and diamond sugar sweets are included.
The Palani panchamirtham is prepared, according to the GI application submitted, with the help of the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), a government of India undertaking in Mysore. The entire panchamirtham production process is mechanised. The maintenance of the hygienic features is double-checked. The panchamirtham is served to worshippers as prasadam in both the hill temple and the booths run by the temple administration in Adivaram. The panchamirtham is said to heal the devotees’ illnesses.
The oldest type of jam or fruit mixture is called Palani Panchmirtam, and it keeps exceptionally well for months. Additionally, it is said that food tastes better the older it is. Both the quality of the fruit used as the main ingredient and the skill with which it is prepared are crucial to its success. The small size of the viruppchchi plantains, which have a very low water content, is what accounts for it. In the Palani Hills, a community by the name of Viruppchchi is where this specific plantain type is farmed and sold.
In addition to being a delicious and nourishing food, panchmirtam is also collected after abhishekam and has amazing properties that maintain it in conditions suitable for eating for a long
time without refrigeration. It is suggested that you purchase all of your needs from the Devasthnam and transfer the items to your own containers for proper preservation. Anyone with an interest is welcome to tour the Devasthnam’s poultry’s Panchmirtam making kitchen. The Devasthnam has recently set up a facility to produce Panchamirtam utilising electrical equipment.
Panchamirtham got the tag by the GI Registry more than three years after a formal application in June 2016 made by the joint commissioner/executive officer of Arulmigu Dhandayuthapani Swamy Thirukkoil. Regarding this, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) attorney P. Sanjai Gandhi said, “On February 5, 2019, a division bench headed by Justice N Kirubakaran sought the status report of the GI application for Panchamirtham while hearing a PIL filed by one Radhakrishnan demanding proper maintenance of assets belonging to the temple.”
The GI tag secures that the prasad can only be manufactured in Palani town of Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu, within a latitude of 10.44° and longitude of 77.52°. This will ensure that the local people enjoy better economic conditions, higher standards of living by boosting sales of the product by creating a more profitable market. According to the GI application filed, the Palani panchamirtham is to be prepared under the regulations prescribed by the CFTRI (Central Food Technological Research Institute) Mysore, a government of India undertaking. In the petition filed before the GI Registry, the joint commissioner /executive officer, HR & CE, Arulmigu Dhandayuthapani Swamy Thirukkoil, Palani, submitted report stating that ‘panchamirtham’, has been prepared and offered only in the hill temple of Palani for centuries.
Intention of GI:
Those goods which are defined as coming from a country’s territory or a region or locality within that territory if the product’s quality reputation or other qualities can be linked to its place of origin.
The product must state that it is of a certain origin, has a special quality or reputation, or exhibits other qualities that are primarily attributed to its geographic origin in order to receive a GI tag. According to the legal requirements of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection Act), 1999, the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registrar of Geographical Indications) (under the Union ministry of commerce & industry) grants GI tags in India. A sweet concoction called Panchamritam, which has five components, is compared to the Palani temple. According to Indian mythology, the Sage Narada travelled to Mount Kailash to present Shiva with a fruit known as the gnana-Palam (literally, the fruit of knowledge).
Regarding crucial issues like the prerequisites for protection or the extent of protection, these methods involve discrepancies. Sui generis systems and collective or certification mark systems, on the other hand, contain some similarities, such as the establishment of rights for collective use by those who adhere to predetermined norms.
In general, geographical indications are protected in various national and regional systems utilising
a wide range of strategies, frequently combining two or more of the strategies mentioned above.
These strategies were created in accordance with various legal traditions and under the constraints of unique historical and economic circumstances.
How will it help?:
When a geographical indicator (GI) is protected, people who are authorised to use it can take action against unauthorised users who profit from its good name (free-riders). The reputation of a geographical indication is a priceless, communal, and intangible asset. If left unprotected, it might be freely used, losing value over time as a result. Protecting a GI also reduces the possibility that the indication will end up as a generic phrase and stops a third party from registering the indication as a trademark.
In general, GIs can bring the following with them, supported by strong business management:
(a) advantage over rivals: This means that the product, Palani Panchamirtham will stand separate from other Prasad offerings that are normally given to the Almighty. Alongside, this shall stand unique and the recipe shall remain the same and no changes shall be applied, as if any new food article is added in the recipe, then a new product shall be prepared and not Palani Panchamirtham.
(b) Increasing the value of a product: This means that the product, Palani Panchamirtham can be marketed and be sold anywhere, including in the e-commerce platform. Huge amount of revenue
can be generated by the people of the state of Kerala and hence improve the GDP of the nation.
Alongside, people shall pay any amount to get the authentic taste of the product.
(c) more chances for export: This means that, the product, Palani Panchamirtham, shall have a huge change of getting exported, as it’s available in the e-commerce platforms as well. It shall be
purchased by those people who are living in the overseas, and wish to try the food product. Due to
this, a huge amount of revenue is added, and the nation generates a lot of foreign currency as well.
(d) a more robust brand: This means that Palani Panchamirtham, has rich flavour and it can never
lose its authenticity. The richness of the taste shall remain firm for years to come.
There are several potential benefits of Geographical Indicators (GI) tag given to Indian origin products which are indigenous in nature
Benefit to Local Community: GI protection ensures that it has wider range positive benefits, especially for local communities like encouraging the preservation of biodiversity, local know-how and natural resources and where India has the opportunity to do well.
Economic and Soft Power: Several benefits flow from a strong GI ecosystem, which can be
a source of economic and soft power.
I. It will help to resolve major issues India is facing like inadequate pay for talent, low female participation in the labour force, and urban migration.
II. It will convert potential talent of people into promising entrepreneurship skill, and will create a new way for individuals to monetise their skills and scale their businesses
III. It will help in removing the hurdles associated with freelance work to earn a regular income from a source other than an employer.
The labour-intensive nature of the GI ensures that to boost the employment-to-population ratio in India
Reverse Urban Migration: GI ensures solutions to reverse urban migration and preserve India’s ancient crafts, culture and food thus boosting local economy.It will help in rejuvenation of MSMEs, which contributes 31% of India’s GDP and 45% of exports from India. An estimated 55.80 million MSMEs employ close to 130 million people; of this, 14% are women-led enterprises and 59.5% are rural.
Tourism- It will help to promote GI tourism thus boosting local economy.
Digital Commerce-– Amazon’s local to global programme has taken Indian producers and their products like Delta Leather Corporation’s leather and SVA Organics’s organic products to 18 global markets in over 200 countries thereby increasing demand and company size almost 300 times. In the two years ending March 2021, Amazon exported such Made in India goods worth $2 billion.
GI products require the support of governments. The EU has an USD 87 billion GI economy. China too has also done very well by enhancing GI ecosystem thus strengthening e- commerce in rural areas and promoting agricultural special product brands in underdeveloped areas. Several studies explain that the patents and copyright meant for protection of products under GI tag result in higher economic gains, enhancing quality production and ensuring equitable distribution of profits.
GI has proved to be a boon for the people all over the world, especially the marginalized and poor craftsmen, weavers and artisans who put forth great efforts in order to maintain proper quality which is known and retained worldwide, and the GI tag helps to maintain the indigenous nature of their products. A GI which is intended to serve the purpose for a bigger geographical area cannot be restricted within the temple. India being a secular country, should ensure that the responsibility of the state to ensure that none of the provisions of law which are in force hamper the religious beliefs of any sect of the society.
The entire process of making the panchamirtham is automated keeping in mind that the hygienic aspects are properly maintained. Devotees visiting the temple are offered the panchamirtham as a
prasadam in the hill temple alongside the stalls setup by temple administration at Adivaram. It
is believed that the panchamirtham cures various diseases that people face. A question also arises whether exchange of beliefs related to cash violates the freedom of religion granted under Articles 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution. Such grant of GI will also make other similar religious trusts to obtain GI status for their unique sacred offerings. So, proper observation is necessary that should be followed by the authorities so that GI continues to remain a valuable means to secure the rights of marginalized communities. Hence GI Registry authorities should adopt stricter measures for granting of GI status or else it would soon reduce the importance of GI as an instrument of IPR.
India’s global brand recall and attributes of multi-cultural ethos, authenticity, and ethnic diversity are potential turbochargers for the country’s economy. One channel through which these attributes can be brought out are Geographical Indications or GI tags.
Nowadays, with the emphasis on climate change and sustainability, these products can be good
option to generate revenue. Existence of a modern distribution system in India ensures growth in
global e-commerce backbone which can propel the nascent GI industry to national and world
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