Sri Lankan Navy tightens norms for St. Antony festival

March 7, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india, Tamil Nadu

festivalSri Lanka, March 06, 2014: The Sri Lankan Navy has restricted the entry of those journalists visiting Katchatheevu island to cover this year’s annual St.Antony’s Church festival who have ‘temporary visa.’

Unlike last year, when more than 30 journalists from the print and television media were taken along with other pilgrims, the Lankan navy made it clear this time that only those who had obtained ‘visa’ would be permitted to visit the island and cover the festival.

The festival is scheduled for March 15 and 16.

The Verkodu Parish in Rameswaram, which coordinated the pilgrimage, had appealed to the Lankan authorities through the High Commission of India in Colombo to relax the restriction, but the High Commission, after checking with the authorities, clarified that “these are common formalities and they should be adhered to,” said Fr. L. Sagayaraj, Verkodu Parish Priest.

The Lankan navy, in a communication to the Parish, had said “the media and journalists are welcome to the festival, but they should apply formally for appropriate visa and then attend the festival.”

Enquiries revealed that only a few media persons have applied for the visa.

Meanwhile, about 1,300 pilgrims from different parts of Tamil Nadu and a few from Karnataka and Kerala have registered for the pilgrimage till Tuesday as the last date for the registration, said Fr.Sagayaraj.

Last year, 2,831 pilgrims had visited Katchatheevu in 77 mechanised boats and 23 vallams (country boats) and this year, only mechanized boats would be allowed to carry the pilgrims for safety reasons, he said.

So far, 45 mechanized boats have registered for the trip and 30 pilgrims could travel in each boat, apart from five crew members, he said.

On reaching the island around 3 p.m. on March 15, the pilgrims would attend the “way of the cross” procession followed by a holy mass and adoration conducted by a senior priest from Tamil Nadu, he said.

After attending the Feast mass and adoration, conducted by the Jaffna Parish Priest, the host on the morning of March 16, the pilgrims would return home, he added.

– the hindu

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