BENGALURU: Reasons for altercations that frequently ensued at the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) between Sabarimala pilgrims and the airport authorities by 2016-end have disappeared in early 2018. The reason: Separate trays have been introduced to ensure that the Irumudis brought along by pilgrims heading from Bengaluru to Kerala airports were separately scanned by the baggage scanners.
lrumudi is the only travelling kit which a Sabarimala pilgrim carries on his head during the pilgrimage. Without the Irumudi one is not allowed to step onto the holy 18 steps at the Sannidhanam.
With trays being used to send across belts and footwear through the scanner, devotees felt offended that they had to place their Irumudis too on the same trays. “Many devotees felt upset about removing the Irumudis from their heads and placing them on trays where pairs of socks and shoes were placed and objected to it. Hence many of them preferred to keep them inside their baggages so that it would be sent to the luggage carousel and then to the belly of the aircraft,” General Manager of Daily Operations, Bangalore International Airport Limited, S V Arunachalam told The New Indian Express.
However, a problem arose here, too. “There is a five layer in-line screening system that takes place. The X-ray scanners could not identify the tender coconuts inside the Irumudis and would reject these luggage. The luggage owners then had to be questioned about them,” he said. The issue came to the fore as a considerable number of pilgrims opted to reach their preferred airport in Kerala by air for the last couple of years.
“To resolve this conflict, we decided to earmark separate trays in which only Irumudi and other religious material would be allowed. These were passed through separately,” he said. “There have been no issues towards end of 2017 and early this year when pilgrims readily opted to use the trays,” he added. The move would be continued during the festival season as it has eased much tension that Sabarimala pilgrims felt inside airports, he said.