When an airport shuts runway, halts flights for god

When an airport shuts runway, halts flights for god

Is there any airport in the world which closes its runway and reschedules flight operations for a centuries-old temple procession to pass?

The international airport in Kerala's capital may be the only one of its kind that has been stopping operations and rearranging flight schedules twice every year for several decades as part of the annual festivals of the famed Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple here.

The flight operations to and from the airport here would come to a halt for five hours when 'aarattu', the ritual bath procession of temple idols, passes through its runway on the final day of the 10-day Painkuni and Alpassi festivals (celebrated during the Tamil months of Painkuni and Alpassi, respectively) of the shrine.

Notice to Airmen

The airport issues a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen), a notice containing information concerning the establishment, condition or change in any facility, service or procedure, airspace management, among others, in this regard a week ahead of the procession, airport sources said.

Armed CISF personnel stand guard on both sides of the runway when the idols pass to take a ritualistic bath in the nearby Shangumugham Beach, crossing the airport premises.

After the 'holy bath', the procession goes back to the temple through the same route in the night with an escort of people carrying burning theevettis (traditional fire lamps).

As this year's aarattu procession, marking the culmination of the ongoing Alpassi festival at the Lord Padmanabha temple would be held on Saturday evening, flight operations at the airport were scheduled to be cancelled between 4 pm and 9 pm, authorities said.

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