Airline separates Ayyappa devotees from Irumudis

CHENNAI: Just as the Sabarimala pilgrim season is gaining momentum, a group of Ayyappa devotees were taken aback at the airport here when they were reportedly not allowed to carry their irumudis (kit with offerings for the deity) on a Kochi flight by the Jet Airways staff.
Santhanam, along with eight others, was all set to depart for his yearly pilgrimage by a flight at 6.55 am on Monday when the incident occurred. “Of the 34 years that I have been making the pilgrimage, the last seven years have been by air. Never before has anything like this happened,” he said. According to him, they proceeded to the check-in counter with their irumudis and were getting their boarding cards when the airline staff allegedly intervened.
“They said that for security reasons our offerings will not be allowed on board as hand baggage,” he told Express from Kerala. Airport sources confirmed that all attempts by the party to persuade the airline to allow them to carry the kits were futile. These kits contain the coconut filled with ghee along with beetel nuts and other consumables meant to be carried by the devotee all the way up till the puja for the deity was performed. Apparently, they were then given the alternative of ferrying the kit as registered parcels on the same flight. “We understand that they have security concerns and so we accepted,” he added Sources in other airlines, however, said none of them have insisted on separating devotees from their ceremonial bags. As there was no metal or plastic, the security risk was non-existent, added an official in civil aviation security. All they insisted on was that the parcel was scanned and checked by security, before boarding. Though he was not overtly troubled, Santhanam agreed that the religious sentiments of others in the group were somewhat offended.


۩ Ayyappa DevoteeZ ۩

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