For top Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) scientists, it has been a tradition to visit Tirupati temple before any major launch. It has been no different in the run-up to the launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission on Tuesday.
Isro chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan visited Tirupati on Sunday to seek blessings for the successful launch.
Former Isro chairman G Madhavan Nair on Monday said, “This has been a tradition. I had also gone to Tirupati before the Chandrayaan mission.”
But more than religious beliefs, he said these temple visits helped des-stress the mind and offer clarity.
But beyond this, do superstitions and other beliefs have a hold on the scientists?
“Not really,” said Mylswamy Annadurai, the project director of moon missions Chandrayaan 1 and Chandrayaan 2. “I read a page of Bhagawad Gita daily and will do so on Tuesday.”
He added, “But yes I have just got a jar of peanuts and a good luck card from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory-Nasa. This is a very nice gesture. I will distribute these peanuts in my office on Tuesday morning.”
Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) consider circulation of peanuts auspicious.
Vijay Saradhi, group director, project management, said, “Beliefs and prayers are personal. We had simply broken a coconut just before the entire process started in July. That’s all. We don’t believe in making our beliefs public.”
SK Shivakumar, director, Isro Satellite Center, agrees. “I am just focussed on the launch. All these things are secondary.”
Another scientist, who did not want to be named, said, “I will pray for the success of the launch during my routine daily worship. Nothing beyond that.”