Thiruvananthapuram International Airport in Kerala will be closed for five hours on Tuesday due to the Alpassi Arattu procession of Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple, according to an official statement. There will be no domestic or international flights from the airport between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m., according to the statement.
“To enable and facilitate the smooth continuation of a centuries-old ritual by Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple for the Alpassi Arattu procession, through the runway of the Thiruvananthapuram International airport, the flight services shall remain suspended from 1600 to 2100 hours on the November 1, 2022,” the statement read.
Domestic and international services have been rescheduled for this time period, and updated schedules will be available from the respective airlines.
What exactly is the Alpassi Arattu processional?
For over 1,000 years, the century-old Vishnu Temple has been managed by its heirs, former Travancore ruler Marthanda Varma. Every year, the airport suspends flight operations during the traditional Arattu procession (Arattu- ritualistic bath of the deity).
Lord Vishnu’s idol is carried to Shankumugham Beach, which is located behind the airport, during the procession. The deity is given a ‘holy dip’ twice a year, a tradition that dates back to before the airport was built in 1932.
The airport issues a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) before suspending services for the bi-annual festival, which occurs twice a year, first in March and April for the Panguni festival and then in October and November for Alphasy.
The procession includes hundreds of people and four elephants adorned with rich decorative coverings carrying Utsav Vigraha of deities Padmanabhaswamy, Narasimha Moorthy, and Krishna Swami and walking through the airport’s long runway to Shankumugham Beach.
After a dip in the sea, the idols are returned to the temple in a procession marked by traditional torches, bringing the festival to a close.