Papayya Voore and his friends came out of the domestic terminal of the Cochin International Airport.
All six Sabarimala pilgrims were clad in black overalls and had bundles on their heads. They had just arrived from Andhra Pradesh on a Spicejet flight.
Neutralising the very essence of a pilgrimage are the nearly 100 passengers that arrive at the airport daily.
So does it make sense in abandoning comforts and greeting sufferings? Papayya Voore, the 40-plus supervisor with the Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Board, says that life has become faster. “It is very difficult to get leave as I am in the supervisory cadre, and what I have is only five days at hand. I cannot wind up my journey in five days if I travel by train or a bus. So the only option is to get a plane.”
Kasthuri Kathiravel also supported the new-age Sabarimala pilgrimage. Kathiravel is a business manager of a Chennai company that makes air-conditioning and ventilation products to be fixed in new age buildings.
When ‘Ayyappas’ come in groups, won’t the other passengers feel uncomfortable? “We are most decent on a plane. We don’t call out mantras, but chant only in mind,” Kathiravel explained. The bundle on his head, he said, had two coconuts, which are to be broken at the thirunada (Holy Steps at Sabarimala) and a few things to be given to Lord Aiyappa as gifts.
In olden times people were relaxed, they did not have businesses done online or matters settled on Wi-Fi gadgets. One hour lost is sometimes a future business proposal lost, he said.
Won’t a comfortable plane journey negate the hardships of a pilgrimage? “As time is important, money is also important. Losing huge money on tickets is a suffering of a sort,” said their friend Maslamani.
Spicejet on Thursday carried at least 40 Sabarimala pilgrims.
After having tea and a short break in the airport restaurant, Papayya Voore and his friends left the airport on a pre-paid taxi for the eternal moksha.