Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Nepal National Airlines Sacrifices Goats to “Appease Sky God”

NEPAL’S troubled national carrier has taken a spiritual approach to recent maintenance troubles with one of its Boeing 757s by sacrificing two goats in front of the plane to appease a Hindu god.

The carrier was forced to suspend international flights for around 10 days in August as both the aircraft it uses for foreign flights were grounded due to technical problems.

“Nepal Airline Corporation officials worshipped the aircraft by sacrificing two goats to avoid technical glitches while flying,” an airline spokesman, Raju Bahadur K.C., said yesterday.

“The goats were offered to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu god of sky protection, whose symbol is printed on all of our aircraft,” he explained.

The goats were beheaded with a khukuri, a traditional curved knife, in front of the plane on Saturday.

One of Nepal Airlines’ two 757s is in Brunei for an overhaul and the other is in Kathmandu and supposedly operational – albeit with technical problems that have forced two recent take-offs to be aborted.

But the airline said that after the goat sacrifice, the aircraft successfully managed a flight to Hong Kong.

Mountainous Nepal is a deeply religious and conservative country with Hindus making up around 80 per cent of the population of 27 million.

The country has hundreds of colourful and ornate festivals annually, and many involve animal sacrifice.

Nepal Airlines flies to seven international destinations in six countries including India, Japan and China.

The national carrier has been dogged by corruption scandals and ineffective management causing tourism officials to demand a major shake-up of the airline, long criticised for its dismal service.
Our e-mail correspondent, who sent this along, observes “news stories like this one make me wonder which century we’re living in.”

Being tolerant of diverse religious practices, we have no objection to the sacrifice of a goat in a situation like this.

But we would not think of actually flying the airline until and unless we learn that it is a lot better managed.

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