Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who took delivery of the country’s first Rafale combat jet plane in France on 8 October, has been mocked on social media.
After he welcomed the fighter jet into the Indian Army, he performed the customary Indian rituals of “vahana pujan” and “shastra pujan” – vehicle and weapon worship on the combat plane.
Pictures and videos making the rounds on social media also showed Singh writing the Hindu religious chant “Om” with red vermilion on the plane along with flowers and a coconut as part of his prayers.
As per Indian beliefs, the minister also placed lemons below the tyres of the plane, to safeguard it against bad omens.
Social media exploded over the images with all sorts of reactions: while some people found the gestures endearing, others poked fun at the minister.
Shastra Puja of #Rafale ongoing...— 𝘈ʟᴛᴇЯ Ǝɢ๏ ツ (@Alter_Ego45) October 8, 2019
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Ji draws ॐ symbol, coconut & flowers are placed on the Rafale, Lemon before the wheels removes 'Buri Nazar'... this is a beautiful scene. 😍🙏 pic.twitter.com/YEPG0PR2pD
France would be wondering what's the technology that was missing in Rafael fighter jet that those lemon could do.— 🇵🇰 Naveed Malik 🇵🇰 PTi ❤️ (@Intabir) October 9, 2019
Send it to Pakistan border to test. Let's see how this lemon and coconut protect .😂
Om written on the Rafale jet.— Harshadha Shirodkar (@shirodkarharshu) October 8, 2019
Coconut and flowers over the jet.
Lemon at the wheels.
All done by India's Defence Minister @rajnathsingh with the world watching, that too in Europe!
This is #NewIndia! and we are proud of our culture and heritage.
Kudos to @rajnathsingh 4 th unapologetic & unashamed #ShastraPuja of #Rafale— Balaji R 🇮🇳 (@balajir2910) October 8, 2019
1.lemon under th tyres
2. Offering of a coconut
3. putting a Swastika on the airframe of the AC
ekdum Bindass and how we would do at home
loved the symbolism #RafaleDeal #IndianAirForceDay
The minister's decision to write “Om” on the jet also evoked reactions with many blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for hurting the secular sentiments of Indian citizens. With over 20,000 mentions, #RafalePujaPolitics is trending on Twitter.
Doesn't this belong to all people of India irrespective of religion. Why religious rituals.— Shakeeb (@shakeeb_a_khan) October 8, 2019
However, several people explained on Twitter that this is how every “puja” or worship happens in India and how the focus must be on the benefits Rafale jets would bring to the Indian Army.
Why is there so much hue and cry on Shastra Puja of Rafael? People before begining any auspicious work pray at Vaishnodevi, Ajmer Sharif, Golden temple, Church. By doing a Puja Rafael doesn't become a Hindu. Rafael is Indian. If Hindus hosting Iftaaris is valid, why not a Puja?— Ravi Rai (@Raviravirai) October 8, 2019
Those doing #RafalePujaPolitics must listen to what the youth of India think of Rafale.
The minister's visit to Paris coincided with the festival of “Dusshera” in India that celebrates the victory of good over evil.