2,103 pilgrims to attend island shrine fest

Ramanathapuram: A total of 2,103 pilgrims will undertake a voyage this year across the Palk Strait to attend the annual festival of St Antony’s Church at Katchatheevu islet. The festival has been scheduled on February 23 and 24. The pilgrims comprising 1,698 men, 352 women and 53 children will sail in 62 boats, including two spare boats. Each boat will take 35 pilgrims while the spare will be manned by crew only. The pilgrims will leave Rameswaram on February 23 morning after screening by various state and central government agencies. Upon reaching the islet, there will be a flag-hoisting followed by a Mass, said Fr A Antonysamy, parish priest of Verkodu church at Rameswaram, coordinating the pilgrimage. On Saturday morning, there will be a grand mass celebrated by Jaffna Bishop, Justin Gnanaprakasam, and the mass is likely to be attended by dignitaries from Sri Lanka. The festival will wind up by Saturday afternoon and pilgrims will return to India. Some prayers during the festival are likely to be in Sinhalese, following demand from Sinhalese pilgrims attending the service, whose number is steadily growing, said Fr Antonysamy. In view of the festival, fishing activities across Palk Strait will be suspended from Wednesday. The 109 fishermen released from Sri Lanka are also likely to be repatriated by Tuesday evening, fishermen sources said. (Source: The Times of India)

Source: News

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