Airport Authority of India (AAI) has issued an advisory requesting the people residing near Chennai Airport to not burn waste materials that create thick smoke during 'Bhogi' celebrations. Bhogi is a ritual where people light bonfire ahead of Pongal, the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu.
AAI said that bonfires releasing thick smoke reduce visibility at the airport which in turn leads to the diversion of flights. In its advisory, AAI suggested the people be sensitive around Chennai airport while celebrating Bhogi.
"In 2018, the airfield was covered with thick smoke emanating from the bonfire reducing visibility at Chennai Airport which in turn lead to diversions/cancellations/ delays of flights, much to the inconvenience of passengers. Nearly 73 departures and 45 arrivals were affected," read the AAI advisory.
"However, during 2019 Bhogi, through intense sensitisation among public and communities around Chennai Airport, we could minimise the effect of the bonfire, leading to fewer disruptions in air traffic," it added.
Pongal is a four-day harvest festival in Tamil Nadu that falls in the Thai month (i.e. the January-February season) when crops such as rice, sugarcane, turmeric, etc. are harvested. Tamil's word ' Pongal' means "boiling," and the harvest festival, which marks the end of Margazhi's month is celebrated as a ritual of thanksgiving for the harvest of the year.
Pongal is all about giving thanks to nature for the abundance of food the region receives. Pongal, one of the main Hindu festivals, occurs every year around at the same time as Lohri. It is celebrated in different parts of India with different names. For instance, it is celebrated in North India with the name Makar Sankranti.
Pongal is also the name of a dish relished during this festive season, which is sweetened rice boiled with lentils. This year the festival will be celebrated between January15-18, 2020.
Picture credit: ANI