Ganpati idols get a chopper ride to devotees' homes
A Vile Parle-based helicopter operator was surprised when he read the list of passengers submitted by Parel resident Rakesh Trivedi to fly from the city to Surat next month. One of the four occupants on board the Bell 206 helicopter will be a 2.5-foot-high Ganpati idol.
Trivedi, who runs a small garment shop at Prabha-devi, booked the hour-long journey for more than Rs1.5 lakh even though a road or rail trip would have cost him much less. "We wanted to be careful as it is a specially made mud idol with some precious ornamental decoration on it. It also gave us [parents and himself] a chance to experience a helicopter ride," said Trivedi. The 10-day Ganeshotsav begins on September 19.
After its flight in the private chopper, the Ganpati idol will be picked up by a car from the tarmac at Surat, where it will be worshipped at Trivedi's aunt's home.
While people booking chopper rides to enjoy an aerial view of Ganpati immersions is a common trend, reservations to fly idols to locations outside Mumbai have taken the operators by surprise. "Initially, we dismissed the inquiries as a joke. But they turned out to be true," said Ameya Gore, spokesperson, Airnetz Aviation, a Vile Parle-based private charter company.
A Ghatkopar-based charitable trust also booked a similar sortie to Vadodara. "We wanted to plan a grand arrival for the affable God and an aerial journey turned out to be a novel idea," said Shailesh Tanna, an office bearer of the trust.
Trust members even wanted the chopper to fly around the temple in Vadodara thrice to emulate a mythological story about Lord Ganesh, in which he flew around his parents thrice to win a bet. But they were denied permission.