It was the Ministry of West Bengal led by the Honorable Chief Minister Sushri Mamata Bannerjee who facilitated the final journey of the vapu (body of ISKCON-guru Bhakti Charu Swami, who passed away on July 4th in Florida, back to Mayapur.
The Chief Minister also arranged a pilot car, and all the police stations from the Kolkata airport to Mayapur were alerted before Maharaja’s plane landed. When Maharaja’s vapu was traveling from the airport to Mayapur, a VIP corridor was formed, and the traffic was stopped in stretches, so that Maharaja’s vapu could reach Mayapur without a delay.
She tweeted about the passing of Maharaj on the morning of July 5th, and also sent a condolence letter to the ISKCON Kolkata temple the same day. Again, on July 13th, she had sent a representative all the way from Kolkata to Sridham Mayapur to garland Maharaja upon his arrival in Mayapur.
The plane carrying Maharaja’s vapu was given first priority in landing and transferred on ground before others.
The Kolkata air traffic control on the day of Maharaj’s arrival was in great anxiety because a storm and heavy rain had started in Kolkata from 7.30 PM and Maharaj’s small plane had decided to fly directly to Kolkata without stopping at Varanasi. So the plane was very low on fuel and could be in the sky for only one extra hour. The Kolkata Airport controllers (ATC) did not give permission to the other two airplanes to land and asked them to hover in the sky till Maharaja’s plane landed. They kept updating the devotees in every 5 minutes.
In the evening, devotees present outside the airport started chanting the Narsimha prayers. The ATC had told that the heavy rains would continue till 9 pm as per the weather updates, but suddenly at around 8.10 pm the rain slowed down and the weather became suitable for the plane to land. Thus Maharaja’s plane landed safely at 8.20 PM.
The General Managers of the Kolkata Airport were all monitoring Maharaja’s plane and when the plane landed, some of the senior officials put on their PPE suits and transferred Maharaj’s vapu to the ambulance, which was already waiting next to the plane.
The officials had all the papers ready and by 8.40 pm Maharaja’s vapuwas allowed to leave the airport.
The samadhi ceremony the next morning was well planned out, followed all the safety protocols and was performed with deep respect, love and dignity as Maharaja was loved by thousands around the world.
May 15, 2022
Sunanda Das, Temple of the Vedic Planetarium