The Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport in Varanasi has added a third language for making announcements related to Covid-19. Besides English and Hindi, flyers will now be able to listen to announcements in Sanskrit as well.

The move will cement Varanasi’s reputation as the ancient centre of the Sanskrit language, the Varanasi Airport said on Twitter. Notably, the world’s oldest college of Sanskrit is the Benares Sanskrit College, which was founded in 1791.

"Now at Varanasi Airport, after English and Hindi, Covid norms are being announced in Sanskrit too,” the airport wrote on Twitter, sharing a video which shows announcements being made in Sanskrit. “When our respected passengers reach the airport, they will feel they have entered Kashi – the hub of Sanskrit.”

Sanskrit announcements were introduced under a joint initiative by the Banaras Hindu University and the Airports Authority of India.

The decision to make public safety announcements in Sanskrit – a classical language reportedly spoken by less than 1% of Indians – was a polarising one.

While some praised the initiative, others were less impressed and dismissed it as a “gimmick”.

The Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, is the state’s second-busiest airport, right behind Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport in state capital Lucknow.