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Australia accepting RATs from inbound travellers in crucial overhaul

Australia will be drastically easing its requirements regarding COVID-19 testing mainly for inbound travellers to ease the current situation of how the country manages international travel during the pandemic.

On Friday, the federal government confirmed that returning travelers will be given the option to do a rapid antigen test (RAT) 24 hours before their flight rather than having to take an expensive PCR test within three days before travel.

Travelers who have been infected by COVID-19 overseas will have their down time reduced from 14 days to 7, before they can fly home.

Health Minister Greg Hunt and Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrew made an announcement on late Friday afternoon, confirming by The Age and Sydney Morning Herald that the overhaul was impending. These new changes will come into effect from 1 am on Sunday.

Accepting RAT tests from travelers aligns with Australia accepting RATs as proper diagnosis. “moves within Australia to accept RATs for diagnostic purposes”, the minister said, keeping in mind the current PCR testing difficulties to be reviewed regularly, “taking into account the domestic and international epidemiology”.

Qantas also confirmed on Friday as they were working to ease the requirement that all passengers submit a medical documents 7 days before their scheduled flights, for some stranded customers, this meant they would have to wait 21 days before they could fly home.

“we are looking at removing the requirement for people flying into Australia to submit their medical clearance seven days before travel and instead have their documents verified at the airport before their flight,” spokesman at Qantas said. “We hope to have this in place next week.”

These changes have been forced after The Age and Sydney Morning Herald highlighted multiple cases of Australians who were infected by COVID-19 overseas had long delays in returning home due to government and airline rules.

The rule change of accepting RAT tests for inbound travelers will significantly lower their cost of travelling overseas, as PCR tests from private clinics costing from $150 to $300 per person whereas a RAT test can cost as little as $10.

As it stands, the Australian Government requires vaccinated travelers who have tested positive for COVID-19 overseas to wait 14 days before they fly back to Australia. For those who experience “viral shedding” – meaning the person continues to test positive after the 14 day isolation while being asymptomatic and no longer contagious need a medical certificate to fly to Australia.

Qantas’s 7 day processing period meant that some passengers had to wait 21 days after testing positive to return home. At a federal level, “shedding” travelers will have local testing guidelines to distinguish if they need a RAT or a PCR test.

In hopes of soothing the situation, Dean Long, the Chief Executive of the Australian Federal of Travel Agents, the peak industry for agents and online booking services, said airlines should not further delay people returning home.

“What we would like to see is that all travel providers follow the clear policy of the Australian Government and not place additional restraint or burden on people travelling to Australia,” Mr Long said.

“We also call on the Australian government to reduce the 14-day waiting period given that Australia is no longer following a COVID-zero elimination strategy.”

Melbourne Airport’s chief of aviation, Lorie Argus, called for all inbound international testing to be scrapped, stating that they did not protect public health as Australia was reporting tens of thousands of COVID-19 cases a day.

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Charter Flights Featured

100 Charter Flights And Many More!

Today we operated our 100th charter flight!

In the month of March 2020, under great adversity, we summoned the will and along with the support and blessings of some great well-wishers, we operated our first charter flight.

We weren’t so sure back then how many we would fly. Hey, a part of us wasn’t even sure if we’d have another plane in the air again!

But we persevered. Our backs were against the wall, but we made room for courage. We banked upon the goodwill of our passengers and lone behold, today we flew our 100th charter flight!

We can hardly believe that we actually scored a century of charters and we have you, our valued passengers to thank.

We thank you for allowing us to bring you closer to your loved ones and we’re grateful for the faith you’ve placed in us.

Honourable Stories From Our ‘Charter Chapter’

In February 2021, we flew our 10,00oth passenger through our charter planes.

We still remember talking to our 10,00oth passenger at the airport just as he was about to board the plane. We offered him a business class ticket and the joy he expressed remains indescribable.

Since then we’ve flown well over 15,000 passengers and continue to reunite families and loved ones.

Bigger and Bigger Goals

Over the years, we have accomplished all of the goals we have set for Gaura Travel. We’re astounded by the progress we’ve made so far and how many families and loved ones we’ve reunited.

During 2020, we’ve pushed ourselves to set bigger and bigger goals, ultimately offering the best service possible.

Our commitment to you will always remain the same.

Want to travel, but haven’t booked you flights?

We still have a few charter flights in operation, flying through Singapore. But we are also taking bookings for some commercial flights through other airlines in the new year!

So what are you waiting for?

Book your flights now at Gaura Travel or speak to our friendly staff to get further information regarding the current rules and regulations.

We are open 24/7! Get in touch.

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Charter Flights Featured

Singapore has taken off from the list of Omicron ‘At-risk’ nations

India has removed Singapore from the list of Omicron risk countries

The removal of Singapore from at-risk countries has become a big relief to the Indian diaspora due to pent up travel demand between Singapore and India.

Read More:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/omicron-singapore-removed-from-the-list-of-at-risk-countries/articleshow/88189567.cms

Singapore no longer in ‘at-risk’ list amid Omicron scare

The central government has removed Singapore from the list of ‘at-risk’ countries which allows international travellers to transfer through Singapore and will not need to undergo further Covid-19 tests or quarantine.

Read More: https://www.livemint.com/news/india/india-removes-singapore-from-at-risk-list-amid-omicron-scare-details-here-11639046679207.html

The current list of ‘at-risk’ nations removes Singapore, by classifying it as one of the countries which can move through for international travellers.

Read More:

https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/091221/india-removes-singapore-from-list-of-at-risk-nations.html

The Modi Government removes Singapore from ‘At-risk’ list amid Omicron threat

Read More:

https://www.india.com/travel/articles/omicron-latest-news-today-december-9-india-removes-singapore-from-at-risk-list-amid-omicron-threat-modi-government-covid-coronavirus-uk-south-africa-brazil-botswana-china-ghana-mauritius-ne-5131360/

Singapore dropped from India’s ‘at-risk’ nations list

On Thursday the Union Health Ministry has removed Singapore from the list of ‘at-risk’ countries, by allowing travellers from the Southeast Asian nation. Therefore, they will no longer require to go through additional quarantine measures upon arrival in India.

Read More:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/omicron-singapore-dropped-from-india-s-at-risk-nations-list-details-here-101639052570779.html

In a statement, Singapore Airlines said that move from at-risk nations means “passengers arriving into India from Singapore will no longer subjected to additional arrival protocols specified for countries categorised as ‘at-risk’ by Indian authorities. These additional protocols include a mandatory on-arrival RT-PCR test and seven days of home quarantine, with a follow-up RT-PCR test on day eight.”

So is that the safest place to be at right now? You bet!

And we are pleased to share that we are there for you 24/ 7 and fly our charter flights over the time no matter what!

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Charter Flights

Final Boarding Call For December

Omicron classified as a ‘super mild’ variant

With weeks to go for Christmas and the New Year, travellers and families are scrambling to secure last minute tickets to be with their loved ones and explore the wonders of India.

This is not the time to ‘umm’ and ‘aah’. This is the time to grab these seats before someone else does. We have a number of Charter Flights operating in December, so jump on board!

Book with us and travel to India in December and make up for all that lost time.

The December Effect

There is something about December and travelling to India. There is no better way to mark the end of the year than to spend time with loved ones back home, especially when you don’t have to worry about quarantine or applying for exemptions.

Many families in Australia know that this is the time of the year when things wind down. Work, business and the hectic lives we lead…they all pause for a few weeks before kicking off again in the new year.

Just as we did when all borders were closed, this time as well, we have launched a BRAND NEW series of CHARTER FLIGHTS from Australia to India across the following dates:

  • Friday, 17 December
  • Sunday, 19 December
  • Monday, 20 December
  • Friday, 24 December

Gaura Travel will also directly operate charter flights from India to Australia for the following dates:

  • Thursday, 16 December
  • Saturday, 18 December
  • Sunday, 19 December
  • Thursday, 23 December

In other words this time of the year becomes the perfect time to fly to India and catch-up with those who have missed you and have hoped for you to be able to make it back home.

And then of course there are those who have had to put their plans of holidaying in India on the backburner. But now even they can bring their great Indian vacation dream back to life.

So hurry, book your seats before it all sells out.

The Omicron effect (or the lack of)

As per South African reports, coronavirus experts in the country are excited to see that the new Omicron variant might be less damaging than the Delta variant.

The Omicron variant is seen to be much milder and is seen to be less lethal in its impact on humans. This means that the world only must cope with a mutant that is showing signs of being far less threatening.

Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of Australia has already categorically denied the possibility of further lockdowns and has instead urged state leaders to continue on with their reopening plans.

Medical professionals do believe that most Covid vaccines, including the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca jabs, are designed to protect against variants to a certain degree, similar to how they protected against previous variants (Delta, Alpha etc.)

The message is clear – yes, we have a new variant but increased knowledge about its behaviours and keeping the faith in the vaccination rollout and the overall strategy will help us continue with our travel plans with more reassurance on our safety.

Hey travellers, we have dealt with ‘bigger and badder’ villains more effectively; let us not worry about the sidekicks. 

Make this a December to Remember

Flights are a ‘go’ and they will take off as planned. But we hope they do so with you on it!

So, call us and book your seats before we run out of them!

We can guarantee you this: every other person on the plane will be vaccinated and will have just returned a negative COVID test. Is that the safest place to be at right now? You bet!

You can reach our knowledgeable team 24/7. We look forward to talking soon!

Sources:

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Featured

National Cabinet Meeting pursues to a suppression strategy

Recently, National Cabinet met to discuss Australia’s Covid-19 retort and concern on new Omicron strain.

According to the update of Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly, WHO has declared the Omicron variant first found in Southern Africa on 24 November 2021 and currently six cases have been detected in Australia. All cases found in Australia have mild symptoms or asymptomatic and are in quarantine.

Australia’s Covid-19 vaccine roll out continue to increase and up to date over 39.2 million Covid-19 vaccines doses have been administrated in Australia. National Cabinet noted that majority of susceptible population have received their Covid-19 vaccines and Australia has sufficient supplies of booster shots available in regarding to vaccine roll out program.

Omicron variant and government response

Professor Paul Kelly further advised that Australia is in the initial stage of understanding the new Omicron variant, and at this stage there’s inadequate evidence that vaccines and treatments are less effective against Omicron than other variants. Hence, there’s no clear evidence at this stage that Omicron is a more acute disease.

Therefore, the Commonwealth and states have already acted on medical advice to implement travel restrictions, revised quarantine, and home isolation requirements. The Commonwealth has implemented a temporary travel ban on non-citizens from Southern Africa entering to Australia and Australians return from Southern Africa countries are required to undergo 14 days quarantine under state or territory public health requirements.

Further the Commonwealth has postponed the reopening to international skilled and student visa cohorts and humanitarian visa holders from 1 December up until 15 December as these are temporary precautions to safeguard the national boarders of Australia.

Though, existing plans will continue for Australians, permanent residents, immediate family including parents and other exempt visa holders including travelers through the New Zealand and Singapore safe travel zones and Pacific Labor Scheme participants.

Isn’t it exciting to hear that the National Cabinet agreed that the Commonwealth and the state governments will continue to pursue a suppression strategy, stating the objective is to limit the rate of Omicron invasions into Australia, rather than going back to lock downs?

Read More…

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Featured

100 reasons to ‘return’ to India with Singapore Airlines

For a while, it was impossible to travel more than 5km from our houses, especially in Melbourne. At that point, the (almost) 10,000 kms that stood between India and Melbourne felt like a few light years away.

But not anymore. The boundaries have melted away and travel between India and Australia has returned as close to normalcy as possible.

Singapore Airlines, the designate ruler of the clouds, has once again been united with the skies. And with more opportunities to avail the Singapore Airlines experience, it means that you can and must book your return travel today.

Book your return fares with us today

Book with Gaura Travel and you can now avail $100 off your return fare through Singapore Airlines! But hurry this is a  limited-time offer, so get in before it is too late.

To avail the discount, use the offer code: RETURN100 at checkout and you can immediately avail the discount.

Now you can not only travel to where home is, but you can also plan your safe return back to Australia. All the more, when you travel with Singapore Airlines, you can once again receive top-of-the-class service, both in-flight and at the award-winning Changi International Airport.

Over the last two years, two aspects of travel have been a source of a great deal of stress, but not anymore.

No exemptions. No quarantine.

Ever since travel became complicated, one of the most common sources of confusion and stress was the need to apply for exemptions. Over the last two years, our team has been submerged with questions but our 24/7 call centre has helped numerous passengers travel to and back from India.

But the great news is that passengers don’t need to worry about exemptions anymore. Speak to us about your situation to get further clarity if required.

The other added element that created concerns for travellers was having to undergo hotel quarantine – there have been many horror stories about the ‘then mandatory’ 14-day stay in a hotel without any human connection.

Ever since travel became complicated, one of the most common sources of confusion and stress was the need to apply for exemptions. Over the last two years, our team has been submerged with questions but our 24/7 call centre has helped numerous passengers travel to and back from India.

But the great news is that passengers don’t need to worry about exemptions anymore. Speak to us about your situation to get further clarity if required.

The other added element that created concerns for travellers was having to undergo hotel quarantine – there have been many horror stories about the ‘then mandatory’ 14-day stay in a hotel without any human connection.

Upcoming Singapore Airlines flights

Gaura Travel can offer you ticket options from the following upcoming flight:

Talk to us

As always, the rules and regulations are changing rapidly. We live and breathe travel, so we are happy to answer your questions. Don’t forget that we are open 24/7 and are there to help you out.

Once again, if you are thinking of travelling to and back from India with Singapore Airlines, then book with us and enjoy the $100 off.

And think about all the wonderful things you could do with an extra $100 – maybe more gifts for loved ones?

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Featured

Light up your travel plans this Diwali

Travel with us this Diwali and you can get up to $500 off

The winds of freedom are blowing and the entire nation is looking forward to travelling without the shackles of restrictions. Well, almost.

And the timing couldn’t be better. Around this time of the year, the Indian community goes into a state of festive overdrive. Through Navratri, Milad Un-Nabi, Dussehra and more, one can only imagine the volume of prayers and vibes that would have sent back into the Universe.

Finally, the Universe seems to have smiled.

A ‘$500’ gift from the Gaura Travel team

With the festival of lights, Diwali around the corner, brightness and happiness has returned in to many households. Many families now know that travelling to and from Australia is at its most relaxed since the pandemic first struck.

As if our $899 fares weren’t low enough already, we want to give our valued travellers more.

For the next ten days, Gaura Travel invites travellers to take part in a fun ‘Spin the Wheel’ activity on the website. And who knows, you might be one of many who can get up to $500 off your fare to India.

This is our way of sharing with you as you prepare to welcome the new rules of freedom (or should we say, lack of rules!).

What does this newfound freedom look like?

586 days. And NOT counting.

That’s right. It has been 586 days since Australia made it necessary for Australian travellers to apply for an exemption to leave Australia. Approval rates were low and many travellers found themselves trapped under the debris of rules and regulations, unable to be there for loved ones in India.

The toll on families and the mental health of the country, and even the world, was hanging by a bare thread. Think famine and then think that first drop of rain. That is what the country is experiencing right now.

Finally, the tables are turning and the human race finally stands a chance against the unseen villains of the virus race. Or at least it certainly feels like that.

Now Australian citizens and permanent residents across the entire country can leave the country without having to apply for exemptions.

Freedom(ish) at midnight.

On November 1 st, 2021, travellers with NSW as the destination, will awaken to newfound freedom. Freedom from hotel quarantine and COVID 19 testing. The only real condition is that travellers must be fully vaccinated. However, it is very important to note that the vaccine itself has to be approved by Australia’s TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration).

At this stage, India’s Covishield vaccine has been fully approved by the TGA. If your vaccine is not approved by the TGA, mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine conditions will still apply.

If you are looking to travel from India, maybe make it in time to celebrate Diwali with the family or for any reason are planning to travel to Sydney, get on to it immediately.

As always, speak to us if you have any questions.

Interstate Travel from Sydney

Sydney will be a designated ‘orange zone from November 1 which means that fully vaccinated travellers can travel into Victoria with a valid travel permit.

For other states, interstate travellers might still be subject to restrictions and quarantine arrangements of their home state if they intend to head back there.

500 reasons to celebrate!

Don’t forget: for the next ten days, Gaura Travel invites travellers to take part in a fun ‘Spin the Wheel’ activity on the website. And who knows, you might be one of many who can get up to $500 off your fare to India.

We have a large number of flight options to multiple destinations in India with fares as low as $899. Get on that phone, or hit our website and secure your seat. 

Enjoy the freedom, you deserve it.

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Featured

Victorians say ‘Hello home, goodbye quarantine’

No quarantine for fully vaccinated international travellers via Sydney.

Up until even a few weeks ago with surging cases of COVID 19 and unflattering vaccination numbers, for international travellers looking to travel into NSW and Victoria, no travel was complete without mandatory hotel quarantine and a series of COVID 19 testing requirements.

But all of that is set to change. With NSW announcing a few days ago that they would open up to the world, the Victorian government has responded in kind by announcing new regulations that make it easier for travellers from NSW to enter Victoria.

As of this morning, all of Greater Sydney will be ‘downgraded’ to an Orange zone.

For international travellers with Melbourne as the final destination, this presents a viable option to fly into Sydney and then make their way to Melbourne without having to go through hotel quarantine or any testing anywhere. 

The rules at a glance

Orange Zones

All Greater Sydney residents and International Travellers flying into Sydney will fall under the Orange Zone. For international travellers, please note that Gaura Travel will provide you with hotel accommodation in Sydney and also arrange for domestic fights to Melbourne.

Being fully vaccinated certainly does have its advantages – you do not have to quarantine or get tested for COVID 19.  

PLEASE NOTE: To travel into Victoria you will need a valid travel permit. For more information please go to: https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/victorian-travel-permit-system

Also, there will be no restrictions applicable in Sydney as fully vaccinated travellers will be free to do as they please.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to our team.

What does all this mean for travellers?

The relaxing of these regulations is a breath of fresh air. This finally means freedom from the shackles of hotel quarantine. This also means no more anxiety about the results of COVID 19 tests.

It really has come down to three simple steps:

  1. Get fully vaccinated, as mandated by the Australian Government
  2. Call and book with Gaura Travel –  we will get you onto a flight to Sydney
  3. Travel to Melbourne – Gaura Travel will organise accommodation and a domestic flight through to Melbourne.

We recommend that you travel with your Vaccination Passport (downloaded from your MyGov account) and have the relevant Victorian Travel Permits.

Once you reach Melbourne, you can head straight to the familiar comforts of your home (and not to a random hotel!).

Once again, if you have any questions, our team is here for you 24/7. As always, we take our responsibility of being your best way home quite seriously.

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Featured

This Dussera, NSW (Rama) vanquishes hotel quarantine (Ravana)

NSW to ‘open up to the world’, scraps quarantine for fully vaccinated passengers

On the occasion of Dussera, could residents of NSW wanting to return to, or travellers wanting to visit the state, have asked for a better gift?

We celebrate Dussera to mark the occasion of Lord Rama defeating Ravana. On that very day Lord Rama was united with Goddess Sita and one can imagine how they might have prepared to travel back to Ayodhya – well you can start packing your bags too, because the state of NSW is ready to welcome you with open arms.

In a very welcome move, NSW premier Dominic Perrottet has announced that fully vaccinated travellers arriving into New South Wales from overseas will no longer have to quarantine from November 1, thereby giving us another reason to celebrate this auspicious day of Dussera.

New South Wales is about to hit its 80 per cent double-dose vaccination target over the weekend and this news comes as an absolute breath of fresh air to travellers and families who wish to fly into NSW.

The reopening of Sydney and NSW to the world, is a giant step towards the resumption of ‘normalcy’, especially for the travel industry, promising a way back to the times before COVID 19 became a household term.

The state of New South Wales has recorded 399 new local coronavirus cases and the case numbers continue to plummet, creating a pathway towards a future without restrictions.

The only thing that matters is double vaccination

In order to qualify and be exempt from quarantine, travellers will need to do a PCR test before boarding a flight and will need to prove their double-vaccination status.

Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres told the press conference there would be no restrictions on where travellers are arriving from. What this effectively means is that regardless of whether you are an Australian Citizen or not, you can travel to NSW.

With vaccination status being the only determinant, the state and its travel industry has made it clear that all travellers are the same in its eyes.

The NSW Government also confirmed that fully vaccinated travellers already in quarantine will be freed on November 1, even if their stay is for less than 14 days.

What does this mean for you?

In simple terms, if you wish to travel back home to NSW, or just want to visit the state, you are welcome to do so after November 1st without you having to go through hotel quarantine, as long as you are doubly vaccinated.

So, if you haven’t booked up for your vaccines, get onto that first. And then give us a call – we will get you on a flight to Sydney / NSW before you can say ‘Happy Dussera’!

Your prayers have been answered. And Gaura Travel looks forward to flying you to NSW and to welcoming you all once again.

And this time, you can drive away from the airport, wherever you wish. Your imagination is the only limitation.

We wish you all the ‘Happiest Dussera’ ever!

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Featured

What will this festive season bring us all?

It is around this time of the year when festivities from the Hindu calendar spring to life.

As a lead up to one of the most popular Indian festivals, Diwali, the majority of India and many Indians settled overseas celebrate Navratri, Durga Ashtami and Dussera.

In the years before COVID 19,  festivities would already have kicked into top gear and the social interaction would have been full of excitement, without any restrictions or boundaries of any kind.

But of course, those times now seem like a different world. A world we probably took for granted, in hindsight.

But having said that, the indomitable human spirit will always find ways to celebrate and honour the divine, regardless of the challenges and restrictions.

Let us take a look at how Indians in Australia celebrate these festivals and the new ways that have been adopted, reflecting the world we live in.

Navratri

The most famous nine nights in India, are symbolized by the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil tyranny of Mahisasura. It is said, that she borrows the power of every God and engages in a dazzling and brutal battle that lasts for nine nights (ten days).

The battle was so mesmerizing that the entire world stood frozen to witness it.

People across India who celebrate this festival, do so in different ways, depending on which part of India you belong to.

In the western part, this festival marks the beginning of the ‘dance’ season in the way of cultural dance forms like Garba, Dandiya etc. In the southern regions, families place divine dolls in the form of a tiered altar called ‘Golu’. In the northern region, special pujas, fasts, meditation, singing, and dancing takes place along with the exchange of sweets, clothes etc. In West Bengal, a five day Durga Puja is also celebrated with great pomp and fervour.

And given the diversity of the country and the cultures within, it is almost impossible to specify what happens in each region. Do let us know how you like to celebrate Navratri.

Durga Ashtami

While Durga Ashtami is celebrated as a separate festival, it really refers to that 8th night in the above-mentioned battle.

A tradition associated with Durga Ashtami is to honour young, unmarried girls (usually a group of five to seven), who are invited into the home. The tradition is based on the belief that each of these young girls represents the shakti (energy) of Durga on Earth.

This festival, a lot like Navratri is a testament to the power of the divine feminine and is a reminder of the wonderful role that women continue to play in all aspects of life. A reminder that it is this energy that sustains and nourishes the very existence we treasure.

Dussera

One of the most popular historical epics from India is the Ramayana. Those who are familiar with the epic know that it is the ultimate fight between the virtuous (represented by Lord Rama) and unrighteous (King Ravana).

Dussera marks the last day of the war where Lord Rama finally kills the demon King Ravana and reunites with his wife, Goddess Seetha.

Given that we have reunited numerous couples over the last two years through our flights, we understand the pains of separation that Lord Rama and Goddess Seetha might have faced.

Here is to the triumph of the virtuous in us, every single time.

But what does all of this mean to us, especially now?

One of the most popular historical epics from India is the Ramayana. Those who are familiar with the epic know that it is the ultimate fight between the virtuous (represented by Lord Rama) and unrighteous (King Ravana).

Dussera marks the last day of the war where Lord Rama finally kills the demon King Ravana and reunites with his wife, Goddess Seetha.

Given that we have reunited numerous couples over the last two years through our flights, we understand the pains of separation that Lord Rama and Goddess Seetha might have faced.

Here is to the triumph of the virtuous in us, every single time.