Archive for the 'religion' Category

Two Goats Sacrificed For Safe Aircraft Operations In Nepal

Usually religion and airlines are two separate worlds, but sometimes they meet. While in Italy a new dedicated airline of the Catholic Vatican (Mistral Air) starts to transport pilgrims to holy sites to please the believers, in Nepal, an existing airline sacrifices two goats – to please the Hindu sky god, who in return is hoped to guarantee an ongoing trouble free operation in the future for a troubled aircraft.

Nepal Airlines Logo with Akash Bhairab

Officials at Nepal Airlines (formely known as Royal Nepal Airlines), Nepal’s state-run airline, have sacrificed two goats last week to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god (who is actually painted on the fusalage of the aircraft), following a long series of technical problems with one of their Boeing 757 airliners due to which Nepal Airlines has had to suspend some services in recent weeks (it was probably a noticabe part of their international services as it is one of only two mid-haul aircrafts at the airline – the domestic market is served by seven Twin Otters).

The goats were sacrificed in front of the troublesome aircraft on Sunday at Nepal’s international airport in Kathmandu in accordance with Hindu traditions, an official said. They hope that after this sacrifice there will be no more (or not as many) technical problems to be fixed with this particular aircraft, and thus there will be less interruptions to their operations due to aircraft maintenance. “The snag in the plane has now been fixed and the aircraft has resumed its flights,” said Raju K.C., a senior airline official, without explaining what the problem had been. Local media last week blamed the company’s woes on an electrical fault. The carrier runs international flights to five cities in Asia, and this particular flight arrived to Hong Kong safely after the ritual. It is common in Nepal to sacrifice animals such as goats and buffaloes to appease different Hindu deities.

Nepal Airlines Boeing 757

I have looked at comments, news and blogs about this ritual around the web, and was surprised that people didn’t get the real message of it. The majority of the headlines are claiming that the airline ONLY used the sacrifice as to repair the aircraft. I personally believe these posts are wrong. If you read the news in more details and do not approach it with a negative prejudice, it becomes obvious, that they earlier had a number of interruptions to their services due to the maintenance times, when the aircraft had to be grounded while being repaired. So, in reality, the plane was repaired, then put back into operations. Then some other problem occured, so it had to be taken out of the schedule and being repaired again. After a number of such occasions, the airline decided, that upon one of the successfull repairs, they will carry out such a ritual as an addition, to prevent future failures and interruptions to their international services. It is being misinterpreted on many sites as the ONLY task they have done for this repair, and I feel sorry about it. It could even hurt the airline financially, as it is generating a bad image for them around the world.

We all know that Boeing and Airbus take their maintenance and repair issues very strictly, so it wouldn’t go unnoticed if Nepal Airlines would actually not repair a problem, only use a ritual… On the other hand, let’s face it, many other rituals and small ceremonies take place all around the world, on a daily basis, which are based on beliefs, customs and sometimes religion. Just think about the habit of cracking a bottle of champagne across a boat before it’s released on the water. Or actually, having the fire-trucks of the airport giving a welcome shower to a new airline at a particular airport! It is a ritual. This was also a ritual, the only difference is that it is based on a religious belief and not a “long running tradition”. This is a CULTURAL DIFFERENCE, which we should all accept, even if it happens in such a surprising contest! And I believe, that many Hindu passengers will actually feel more safe with Nepal Airlines from now on, only because they know that such a sacrifice has taken place!!

by balint01


Vatican’s Mistral Air: Sorry, No Holy Water On Board!

According to media reports, a very interesting situation arose when the passengers of the first ever Vatican Airways pilgrimage flight prepared for their return flight to Rome.

As reported earlier, the Vatican has launched a new initiative, which is providing air travel for Catholic pilgrims from Italy to some Holy Sites. You can read more about the first flight in another earlier post as well.

But what happened at the airport in Lourdes is really showing the clash between religious and non-religous life. The pilgrims took the flight from Rome to Lourdes to visit the “Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral”, which is one of the holiest locations in connection with Mary, the mother of Jesus in the Roman Catholic world. (The sanctuary lays at the site where Catholics believe the Virgin Mary appeared in 1858.) Pilgrims usually stand in long lines at the grotto, to fill up their bottles with holy water which is said to have miraculous healing powers. Until this point, the story is absolutely OK. But taking these bottles filled with holy water home? Onboard an airplane? That leads to some unwanted airport situations, which the organizers of the flight have probably not warned the passengers about. Those of you who have recently travelled around Europe by air, may guess our point of interest: Bingo! It’s the new EU-wide security regulations, about liquids in carry-on baggage!!

Lourdes Holy Water in Bottle

According to the regulations, you are not allowed to take more than 1 liter of liquids on board, and the size of each container (“portion”) within this 1 liter may not exceed 1 deciliter. Or course, the pilgrims filled up their bottles with holy water from the holy site, and it is also understandable that they wished not to check it in. For some of them, taking the holy water home (to some sick loved ones maybe) was probably the most important reason to take this pilgrimage and the flight. Unfortunate for them, the EU airport regulations are in place and are enforced all over Europe, and the French authorities did not make an exception in their fight against terrorism. All passengers are obliged to respect the rules and not go over the quantities (of liquid) permitted on flights, said Franck Hourcade, an official at the Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrenees International Airport.

Therefore the passengers were forced to either leave the water bottles behind, or as one of them has reportedly done: drink it on spot, at the security check, right next to the X-rax machines. According to The Associated Press Francesco Pizzo, Mistral Air’s president, said the company must adhere to the international regulations. “There are international rules that state that liquids cannot be carried on board. These have to be respected,” he said. Pizzo further announced that Mistral Air had provided small bottles shaped like a Madonna and full of holy water on every seat for when the pilgrims came back on board. The flight carried 145 passengers on the inagural flight of the new Airline, he said.

by balint01

Vatican’s Mistral Air Took Off On Monday

As AirlineWorld had reported earlier, Vatican started its own Airline called Mistral Air. The charter airline’s aim is to transport pilrims between holy places. It is surprisingly operated by the Italian Post. The first flight took off from Rome on Monday and took pilgrims to Lourdes, France.

The first photos have already appeared on Airliners. Here are some of them:

Vatican AirwaysVatican AirwaysVatican Airways

Ther website is probably the worst airline website ever, but at least they have one (it is available only in Italian). It shows their destinations on a Google map, but I myself could not find the names of the cities. Maybe somebody who speaks Italian will be luckier. Here is the map for you:

Destination map of Mistral Air

By Szafi

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