2nd Lead (Adds photos)
Vavuniya Pongu Thamil festival draws thousands
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 24 September 2003, 11:44 GMT]
Thousands of Tamil men, women and students from all walks of life thronged the urban council grounds in Vavuniya Wednesday evening from five corners of the town to attend the Pongu Thamil festival meeting, sources said.
Processions that commenced from the Vavuniya Tamil Maha Vidiyalayam and Irambaikulam St Anthony's Church were led by Tamil National Alliance parliamentarians Mr.Selvam Adaikalanathan and Mr.Raja Kuhaneswaran respectively.
TNA parliamentarians Mr.N.Raviraj and Mr.Mavai Senathirajah led the procession that commenced from Jaffna road. TNA parliamentarians Mr.A.Vinayagamoorthy and Mr.Sivasakthi Anandan led the procession from Poonthottam junction and Kurumankattusanthi respectively.
Dr. K. Muthulingam, a member of the organizing committee, unveiled the 2000 Thamil Pongu Festival memorial and a Buddhist monk, Venerable Kalupahana Piyrathana Thera, lit the traditional oil lamp, sources said
The normal activities of the town came to a standstill from noon as all business establishments and other private institutions had put up their shutters.
People carried banners, placards, Thamileelam national flags and cutouts of the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Mr.V. Pirapaharan. The major themes of the slogans were:
"The SLA should leave our homes and lands allowing us to live "
" Establish interim administrative council in the northeast immediately to restore normalcy in our lives"
" A permanent solution would bring permanent peace"
" We want our land"
" Please do not make us revolt again"
Students from schools, universities, Colleges of Education, Technical Colleges and government servants participated in the processions in large numbers, sources said.
Special religious rites were held Wednesday morning in Hindu temples and churches in connection with the Pongu Thamil festival.(To view the full Pongu Thamil picture gallery click here)