Pongal festival celebrated in Vattapallai Amman Temple
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 10 June 2003, 02:27 GMT]
Thousands of devotees from different parts of Northeast joined in the pongal celebrations held at Vattapallai Amman Temple, a popular hindu temple in Vanni, Monday. The prevailing climate of peace after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of SriLanka (GoSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was the reason for such large gathering of devotees at the temple festival, sources said.
During early 1990s when Mullaitivu town was occupied by Sri Lanka Army (SLA), Mullaitivu residents conducted temple festivals in an alternate location amidst harrasment from the security forces. However, after 18th July 1996, when the Mullaitivu SLA camp was overrun by the LTTE in an operation code named Oyatha Allaigal-I Mullaitivu residents have been peacefully celebrating temple festivals every year at the Temple premises.
Several Tamil civilians met their death in the hands of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) and the SLA at temple premises before 1996.
During 1989, when the IPKF bombed the temple premises where displaced had taken refuge, 8 civilians were killed and 22 were injured severely. In 1990 July SLA's helicopters bombed temple buildings causing large scale destruction to temple property. In June 1992 while pongal festival was being celebrated with permission from the SLA, shells fired by military from their Mullaitivu camp killed 22 civilians and injured 32 more inside temple premises.
The temple was finally closed in late 1992.
Devotees said they are grateful that they can now pray in peace and expressed hope peace continues between the warring parties.