Katchativu Church festival - a meeting point for devotees of India and Sri Lanka , concluded peacefully
The annual feast of St. Anthony ’s Church in Kachchativu concluded peacefully and nearly 6000 devotees from both Sri Lanka and India participated in the two-day festival.
St Anthony, a patron –saint for seafarers to whom the feast was dedicated, was held on 23rd and 24th Fabruary 2013 and the Mass was conducted by Bishop of Jaffna, Rt. Rev. Dr Thomas Savundaranayagam and assisted by Parish Priest of Kachchativu, Rev. Fr. A Amalrajan.
This time it was noted that Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr Thomas Savundaranayagam made a very subdued sermon without making any reference or mention about any social or humanitarian issues.
Minister Douglas Devananda who participated in the two-day church feast told Asian Tribune that he was happy that devotees from both countries participated in the church feast and they were all happy that the annual feast of the Kaval Deivam (Protecting deity) of fishermen of both countries - Sri Lanka and India went on well.
Minister Douglas Devananda at Katchativu
He added Indian devotees somewhere around 2800 to 3000 who participated in the festival was treated with due respect by the Sri Lankan Navy and police.
Minister Douglas Devananda said that he went to Katchativu on 23rd morning, stayed overnight and participated in the mass and feast yesterday before leaving in the afternoon back to mainland Jaffna.
He further said he went along with 16 representatives of the Fisheries Organizations in Sri Lanka in readiness for talks with their counterparts in India.
“Unfortunately”, Minister said, “many of those fisheries society office-bearers who promised to be in Katchativu for talks, were not present at Katchativu.”
He said , he learnt that Tamil Nadu Government and Tamil Nadu political leaders have applied pressure on those office bearers not to visit Katchativu to participate in talks with their Sri Lankan counterparts.
Minister Douglas Devananda said there were a few representatives of the Tamil Nadu fisheries societies, who merely came as devotees and they met him and said that they were strictly told not to be involved in any talks with the Sri Lankan side regarding fishing and fishermen problems.
Minister Douglas Devananda said, Tamil Nadu fishing society representatives are free to visit Sri Lanka for talks with their counterparts whenever they are free to come over.
Proposed 5000-boat protest
Minister Devananda said that some Sri Lankan newspapers have referred about his proposed 5000-boat protest in the Palk Strait against poaching by Indian fishermen.
He said that he has never abandoned the announced protest but he added that no sensible person would ever stage any protest when a church festival was on and such protest would definitely place the Sri Lankan and Indian devotees in quandary.
He further said, time is still not ripe to stage a protest against Tamil Nadu in particular and India in general, as still the process of negotiations are on and once we fail to arrive at any acceptable conclusion with the fisheries society representatives in Tamil Nadu and if the bilateral talks between India and Sri Lanka fails to settle the problems of poaching by the Indian fishermen only, he will consider of his protest campaign.
Indian High Commissioner in Katchativu
For the first time since 1976, High Commissioner of India Asok K. Kantha has visited Kachchativu. The High Commissioner was accompanied by Mr. V. Mahalingham, Consul General of India in Jaffna.
The High Commissioner who visited with his wife to church festival was seen participating in the church mass with piety.
During his visit, the High Commissioner interacted with priests, nuns and devotees from India who conveyed their gratitude for organizing this traditional annual feast which has been observed since 1905.
Nearly 2814 Indian devotees who came to the Island in 94 boats participated with great enthusiasm and piety in this annual feast, which is held in honor of the patron saint of sea-farers,
Indian Journalists in Katchativu
Almost 47 journalists from Sri Lanka and 46 from India were present yesterday at the Katchativu islet.
Indian journalists were seen talking and interviewing Minister Douglas Devananda.
Minister Douglas Devananda welcomed the Indian journalists to the Katchativu church festival and also invited them to visit Sri Lanka and to the Northern province to see for themselves the development activities taking place in the Peninsula and also to meet with the people.
He reminded Indian journalist, “we Sri Lankan Tamils will always welcome devotees coming over for pilgrimage and never harass them or protest against them for petty political benefits as adhered by a section of Tamil Nadu political leaders.”
He said it was a shame on the part of Tamil Nadu leaders and actors in the cinema industry to harass visitors from Sri Lanka who visits temples, churches and mosques for pilgrimage. He expressed doubts whether they true sons of Tamils, who always welcome those with stretched hands who visits their houses, villages and cities.
Sri Lanka Navy
In the meantime, according to a Sri Lankan Navy statement,” Under the direction of the Ministry of Defence & Urban Devolopment and the supervision of Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, Vice Admiral Jayanath Colombage, Sri Lanka Navy facilitated the conduct of the annual feast of the St. Anthony’s Church in Kachchativu on a grand scale. The feast was held on 23rd and 24th Fabruary 2013.”
Sri Lanka Navy provided all infrastructure facilities, including installation of sanitary and drinking water facilities in the Kachchative Island located in Sri Lanka’s northern waters. Temporary Jetties were made ready for people to secure their boats conveniently. Special SLN life saving and medical teams were deployed to ensure the safety of the devotees attending the annual festival.
Minister of Traditional Industries & Small Enterprise Development . Douglas Devananda, High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka Ashok K. Kantha, Commander Northern Naval Area Rear Admiral Shirantha Udawatte, Jaffna Security Forces Commander Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Jaffna District) Mr. Indu Karunarathna, Jaffna District Government Deputy Commander of the Nothern Naval Area Commodore Samantha Wimalathunga and Sri Lanka Air Force Palali Base Commander Group Captain AJ Amarasinghe were also present on the occasion.
- Asian Tribune -