Over 5,000 pilgrims, mostly fishermen and their families from Tamil Nadu participated in the Katchativu Island St. Anthony’s feast on Saturday and Sunday along with several thousands of pilgrims from Sri Lanka, strengthening mutual ties of friendship and brotherhood between the two neighboring countries.
This church built in Katchativu is named after St. Anthony the patron-saint of seafarers to whom the annual feast is dedicated.
Holding of the feast was totally interrupted during the terrorist period. After vanquishing of terrorism by the Sri Lankan security forces the Sri Lanka Navy fully renovated the Church and the pilgrimage has now been permitted.
The Sri Lanka Navy organized the conduct of the annual feast under the directions of the Defence Ministry and supervision of the Navy Commander Vice Admiral Somathilake Dissanayake. The feast was facilitated by the Sri Lanka Navy by providing food and transportation. The Northern Naval Command provide all the infrastructure facilities, including development of all the by roads and installation of sanitary and drinking water facilities on the Katchathivu islands.
The Indian Daily Times of India said that more than 4,000 pilgrims left in about 110 mechanised boats to the shrine last Friday and returned to Rameswaram yesterday after attending the feast. It said that for the first time, there were also pilgrims from Karnataka and Puducherry who proceeded to Katchatheevu along with the pilgrims of Tamil Nadu.
The main mass was conducted by Ref.Fr. Justin Gnanaprakasam.
Reports said that Fishermen from both countries put up shops on the island to sell their produce while the Indian fishermen marketed sarees and other textiles to their counterparts, Sri Lankan fishermen sold palm leaf sugar, syrup and milk powder, a product that is very scarce in Tamil Nadu.