Restrictions imposed on foot pilgrimage to Kathirkaamam Murugan Temple

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 27 May 2008, 21:23 GMT]
Religious institutions and volunteer organizations will not be allowed to provide water, food and medical facilities to devotees who enter Yala sanctuary in their final phase of foot pilgrimage through villages in eastern province to attend Murugan temple festival in Kathirkaamam this year, civil society sources said. Government security forces are to escort the devotees from the entrance of the Yala sanctuary to the Murugan Temple. Security forces will also monitor the activities of the devotees and ensure their security when they walk through the Yala National Sanctuary, sources added.

However, private sector institutions and voluntary organizations would be allowed to provide facilities to these devotees from Batticaloa via Kalmunai, Pottuvil until they reach Paanamai. A decision to this effect was taken at a top level conference held Sunday at Giri Vihare located in Sooran Kottai in Kathirkaamam to finalize the arrangements regarding this year festival, according to Colonel Devendra Perera, Security Officer of the Yala National Sanctuary.

Colonel Devendra Perera is reported to have told the conference that the decision had been taken due to confirmed reports that members coming by foot pilgrimage had helped LTTE cadres who have moved to the south. LTTE cadres have been involved in several attacks in the south and have been receiving help from persons coming to south as members of the foot pilgrimage, according to Perera.

The conference was attended by Moneragala Government Agent M.D.Dissanayake, Basanayake Nilame of Kathirkaamam Murugan Temple Sasinthira Rajapkse and top officials from the Presidential Secretariat and defence and police officials.

The annual festival of Kathikaamam Temple is to commence on July 3 with the flag hoisting ceremony and to conclude on Jule 19 with the Water Cutting Ceremony in Maa'nikka Gangai.

Hindu devotees had been participating annually in the foot pilgrimage in large numbers. The numbers have diminished to a few hundreds due to the prevailing ground situation.

In previous years foot pilgrimage commenced with the annual Pongal Festival of Vattaapalai Kannagi Amman Temple in Mullaitivu. On the day several devotees begin their foot pilgrimage, passing through Kokulaay, Kokkuthoduwai, Thiriyaai, Kuchchaveli, and Nilaveli to Trincomalee.

From Trincomalee they travel to Moothoor by sea and continue their holy journey with other devotees from Moothoor and Batticaloa jioing in. During their journey they stay in Hindu temples and madams (shelters). Volunteers from several Hindu organizations look after them throughout their journey till they reach Kathirkaamam.

Now due to volatile security situation few devotees gather in Trincomalee town to go to Moothoor by sea, and join with others in Batticaloa on foot pilgrimage.


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