Kachchaitheevu St. Antony’s Church annual festival cancelled

[TamilNet, Saturday, 07 March 2009, 18:13 GMT]
The annual festival of the historically famous St. Antony’s Church located on the on the islet of Kachchaitheevu on the sea boundary between Sri Lanka and India has been cancelled this year as Sri Lanka Defense Ministry had delayed permission until last minute to go to Kachchaitheevu besides restricting the number of devotees to 50 from Sri Lanka and 50 from India, Jaffna Bishop House said in its report.

Jaffna Bishop House had sought permission from the Defense Ministry through Jaffna Government Agent well ahead of the festival to allow a minimum number of priests and their assistants along with 550 persons to clean and make ready the church surroundings to hold the festival.

The festival was scheduled to take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday but Defense Ministry which had delayed responding to the application had granted its permission only Thursday evening, besides restricting the number of persons to 50 each from Sri Lanka and India.

As it is impossible to conduct the festival which has to begin Friday with permission granted only Thursday evening and that too with a very limited number of persons allowed, the festival this year is being cancelled, Jaffna Bishop House said.

During peace time fishermen from Sri Lanka and India fishing near the seas of Kachchaitheevu used to rest in the islet besides worshipping at the ST. Antony’s church in Kachchaitheevu.

Later, Sri Lanka government had imposed a ban on travel to Kachchaitheevu allowing only the annual festival to be conducted and that too with severe restrictions.

There have been agitations in Tamil Nadu on India to get Kachchitheevu back from Sri Lanka.


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