On Tuesday, Air India - India's flag carrier - backtracked on a controversial decision to ban bottles of Zamzam water on some of its flights.
The airline also said that they would allow passengers returning from Hajj an extra five kilograms of baggage allowance to make sure they can carry the water. This all came after news of the ban sparked intense backlash among Muslim Indians and people of the faith all around the world. In a post uploaded on their official Twitter account, airline officials revealed they have completely revoked the ban, writing:
"With reference to instructions regarding non carriage of Zamzam cans, on AI966 and AI964, we wish to clarify that passengers are allowed to carry Zamzam cans within their permissible baggage allowance. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience caused."
The ban was announced by Air India earlier this week and was going to be in effect until Sept.15, which marks the end of the Hajj season.
In an advisory sent out to travel agents on July 4, Air India's Jeddah sales team said Zamzam water will not be allowed on flights AI966 (Jeddah/Hyderabad/Mumbai) and AI964 (Jeddah/Cochin) "due to change of aircraft and seat limitation."
Speaking to Gulf News, a source at the airline tried to explain the ban, saying Zamzam water will not be allowed on the two flights because "narrow-bodied aircraft have space constraints."
"They are single-aisle planes with a cabin diameter of between three of four metres," he added.
Though the source stated that pilgrims flying on flights other than AI966 and AI964 will be allowed to carry on holy water, those who were affected by the decision before it was backtracked were simply fed up.
Many also couldn't understand how small bottles of water would affect the "space constraints" of large aircrafts.
Speaking to Gulf News, A.Khan, a pilgrim who will be attending Hajj later this month, said: "How much space could a small water bottle possibly occupy?"
In statements to Khaleej Times, several other expats expressed their anger over the ban.
"We bring the Zamzam water from the pilgrimage so that we can distribute it among our friends and relatives and share the blessings," Fathimath Manal told the English-language daily.
Sharjah-based Rahiya Salim also weighed in on the matter, saying:
"I have never heard of such a thing all these years. I will be going on my third Haj this year. Bringing home the Zamzam water is a custom among Muslims. We keep them for use in religious ceremonies."
The apology issued by the airline has been hailed by many. However, not everyone is on the same page, as some people were still troubled by the entire controversy and questioned why Air India would make such a move in the first place, accusing its officials of being Islamophobic.