Bhajans, dance, speeches: Airports & flights used to promote Ram temple
Airports and flights have become the new spots for celebrating the Ayodhya Ram temple inauguration and the promotion of divinity. In the latest such bizarre incident, a man has released a video of himself speaking about the Ram temple on a SpiceJet flight. In two videos shot on an Ayodhya-Chennai flight, Shiv Kumar Iyer addresses passengers while standing in the aisle and raising slogans of ‘Ram Chandra Bhagwan ki Jai’ and ‘Shri Ayodhya Dham ki Jai’. He also mentions that he is based in Singapore. Given the size of the flight, Shiv addresses the passengers twice and has released the footage as two separate videos on social media.
In the videos, Shiv says that he has taken permission from the flight staff but that he cannot use the in-flight PSA system. He goes on to say, “Congratulations to all of us for having seen such a beautiful temple. Neither you nor I could have imagined in our lives that after 500 years, we would see such a beautiful temple. Definitely our great grandfathers or grandmothers would have died in this struggle. Or been destroyed by it. In order to give peace to them, you and I have seen this place.”
Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he adds, “Our work isn’t done yet. Our work isn’t only to see the temple, change our profile pictures and show everyone at home the photos. Our work is just beginning.” He also says that the reason Ram asked the vanar sena–Hanuman’s monkey army–to help him build the so-called Ram Sethu that the natural limestone bridge connecting Pamban and Mannar islands was so that each of the monkeys could remember that they were a part of building it, as the Hindu belief about the bridge’s origin goes. He further says, “Those monkeys are proud that they played a part. In the same way, you and I can also play a part. We are also monkeys of baghwan Ram. Do you agree? Who believes he is part of Baghwan’s vanar sena?”
In one of the videos, a SpiceJet flight staff can be heard telling Shiv that a passenger is uncomfortable and has asked him to stop. Shiv silences the passenger with intimidation, demanding that they raise their hand and threatens to turn the camera on them so that “we can also see”. After this, he asks if anyone else is uncomfortable and tells them to raise their hand all while the camera is facing the passengers. No further attempt is seen being made by the flight staff in the video to intervene when the privacy of SpiceJet passengers is so flagrantly compromised.
The days following the consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya have witnessed multiple similar incidents. In the other cases, groups of women and men filmed themselves singing bhajans at various airports and dancing. A video surfaced earlier this week of a group of approximately 30 women and children at Terminal 2 of Bangalore airport who were on their way to Ayodhya. A young girl in blue is seen dancing while the group behind her sings Ram bhajans.
In other videos, bhajans are sung on the flight itself, including one that appears to belong to IndiGo. These videos are then shared as Instagram Reels or YouTube Shorts. In one post regarding the Bengaluru incident, a voiceover says: “The Communist and liberal gang try to spread fake narrative often that Ram is only a god in northern Bharat and that in southern Bharat, no one speaks of him,” adding that this video from Bengaluru airport proves them wrong.
In another video on an IndiGo flight, a group sings ‘Raghupathi Raghava Rajaram’, a bhajan popularised by MK Gandhi, with one person playing a drum placed on his lap. However, the secular lines added by Gandhi ‘Ishwar Allah tere naam’ (that god is known both as Ishwar and Allah) is left out.
Speaking to TNM, aviation expert Captain Mohan Ranganathan said the onus to prevent such incidents fell on the airline company and that action should be taken by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). “What happened on that IndiGo flight was a pure safety violation. Anything which cannot fit into the cabin bag is not allowed to be carried on board. If there was a decompression and oxygen masks had dropped, none of them would have been able to put it on. They would be brain dead in 15 seconds in a high-altitude flight. If the DGCA is going to remain silent, then they are making a mockery of safety in India,” he said.
The captain further asked if the airport authorities would have permitted namaz on the airport premises. “Will other passengers hear any announcements (if they play loud music)? Let them go to a temple, but such things cannot happen in a public place.”
It may be recalled that even before the consecration ceremony of the Ram temple on January 22, staff on IndiGo’s January 11 inaugural flight to Ayodhya from Ahmedabad went to the extent of dressing up as Ram, Sita, and Hanuman. The flight was inaugurated by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.