On January 19, six newly purchased Rafale aircraft in France were welcomed by Greece. In a major television broadcast, the first six of the 24 planes made by Dassault were captured arriving in the country flying in front of the Parthenon Temple on top of the Acropolis Hill. The message “Welcome home” was broadcast from the control tower as the planes approached Tanagra Air Base.
A religious ceremony was held at the air base to mark his arrival. Before the great surrender, the Catholic priests prayed for the fountains and blessed them with holy water. The same blessings were also passed on to Defense officials before the planes were handed over to the Air Force. While the religious ceremony was seen as a sign of a warm welcome to Greece, it’s hard not to remember the adverse reaction that erupted in 2019 when the Minister of Defense received our Rafale planes in a traditional Shastra Puja.
Rajnath Singh’s Shastra Puja called “communal”
On October 8, 2019, when India received the first Rafale fighter jet, Union Defense Minister Rajnath Singh made a Shastra boarding at Merignac Air Base, his action provoked a great “communist” debate. Singh had boarded the plane, stamped it with one Yes tilak and put flowers and a coconut, just before making a 35-minute departure on the two-seater plane. This ascent was made on the occasion of Dussehra, marking the end of the Navaratri festival.
However, back in India, the simple act of the Minister of Defense honoring the fighter jet was greeted with great commotion and opposition parties raised questions about the Hindu tradition.
- Congress calls for moving a “tamasha”
It started with the Congress party which called the movement “tamasha” to attract people. While party leader Mallikarjun Kharge called the rise “theatrical”, veteran leader Salman Khurshid opined that it would have been better if Rafale had received the blessings of “all religions” instead of a religious power.
- NCP compares the defense minister to the “truck driver” hanging nimbu-mirchi
At a pre-election press conference in Maharashtra, the head of the NCP, Sharad Pawar, mocked the rise of Rafale’s tailor and drew a parallel between the Minister of Defense and the truck drivers. they hang lemon and chilli to ward off the evil eye. “What can be said when the lemon chilli is hung on a Rafale plane with the idea of protecting it from the curse just as it is hung on a newly purchased truck,” Pawar teased.
The Defense Minister had graciously responded to critics by saying that even people in France, who belonged to other religions, had accepted his act at his own air base. “On the day of Vijayadashami, when I worshiped weapons in France and wrote ‘YesIn Rafale and tied the thread of defense, some congressional leaders sitting here began to have problems. While in France there were people of all religions and they were all fully cooperating, “he said.
Later, a ‘Sarva Dharma’ hike was also organized with Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian priests to welcome the planes at Ambala Air Base in India. The question remains whether leaders would now like to comment on Greece’s decision to bless its planes by Catholic priests in the same way.
“Sarva Dharma Puja” performed at Rafale induction ceremony at IAF air base in Ambala
Present were Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly and Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria. pic.twitter.com/Bu2A54z8HD
– ANI (@ANI) September 10, 2020
Image: Republic World, ANI