Aviation and devotion

Aviation and devotion

It was reported a traditional puja was performed at Chennai airport by Air France, to invoke the blessings of Ganapathi and Kaligamba

Representative image. Credit: iStock Images

It was reported a traditional puja was performed at Chennai airport by Air France, to invoke the blessings of Ganapathi and Kaligamba, by a Hindu priest, before the launch of the direct flight from Chennai to Paris after the pandemic.

Even after decades of flying, I never cease to wonder how such a huge aircraft carrying a payload of men and cargo is airborne, defying the gravitational pull, manoeuvred to take off and land safely, despite the vagaries of weather. I feel relieved when the wheels touch down the runways, on a perfect three-point landing or with a thud — I feel nice to be on the terra firma once again.

When I was flying to Bombay, my seatmate, a gentleman wearing a religious mark pointed out, “Sir, you can see the Tirupathi hills. And the temple of Lord Balaji over there. Today, the sky is clear, cloud-free, so we are blessed. Did you know many pilots never fly directly over the top of the temple but cruise alongside the seven hills?”

“Man may create planes, rockets and satellites, but he cannot create another universe. The one created by sage Viswamitra was an upside-down fiasco.” Having said that, he prayed and immersed himself in the book he was reading.

Such is the divine pull of Lord Balajee, even the flamboyant Vijay Mallya, reportedly flew his newly inducted Kingfisher flights first, circumambulating the sacred Seven Hills.

I have not been on a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash or scaled the peaks of Mount Everest. But amid a nap in the Airbus to Delhi, I was woken up by the growl of the captain that the passengers on the left can see the mighty snow-capped Himalayas clearly at a distance. A person sitting ahead of me shouted: “Har har Shankar!” while another person completed it, with a “Jai Jai Shankar!” I was thrilled to get a glimpse of the mighty mountain.

A southern landmark is the Ram Sethu. A gentleman who accompanied me on my most trips to Colombo always insisted on a window seat, for the sake of a breathtaking view of Ram Sethu when the aircraft flew from Chennai to Colombo’s Katunayake airport at the Southwest end of the island. When I saw it for the first time, I could visualise Ram and Lakshman followed by their allies from the kingdom of Kishkindha, marching over the bridge built by the Ksihkindha engineers.

It is an irony such a bridge was not used by the victorious Rama, who returned with Sita, after vanquishing the ten-headed Ravana. No doubt he was in a hurry to reach within the expiry of 14 years of exile. Rama, Sita and the retinue flew by Ravana’s aircraft, the Pushpak Viman!

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