Feb 24, Colombo: The annual feast of St. Anthony's Church in Kachchativu Island of Sri Lanka concluded today with over 5,200 devotees from India and Sri Lanka attending the two-day event.
For the first time, High Commissioner of India, Ashok K. Kantha, attended the annual feast in the early morning of Sunday. He was accompanied by the Consul General of India in Jaffna V. Mahalingam.
The islet welcomed 2,814 Indian devotees who came in 94 boats with great enthusiasm and piety to participate in the annual feast, held in Honour of the patron saint of sea-farers, Rev. St. Antony.
Rev. Bishop of Jaffna, Dr. Thomas Saudranayagam conducted the main mass at Kachchativu.
Rev. Fr. Amal Rajan, head of the Kachchativu diocese, Minister Douglas Devananda, and Commanders of the security forces also participated in the mass.
Sri Lanka's Ministry of Defence and Urban Development and the supervision of Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, Vice Admiral Jayanath Colombage, Sri Lanka Navy facilitated the conduct of the annual feast of the St. Anthony's Church in Kachchativu on a grand scale.
During his visit, the High Commissioner also interacted with the priests, nuns and pilgrims from India who conveyed their gratitude for organizing this traditional annual pilgrimage which has been observed since 1905.
Sri Lankan Navy had made the arrangements for food, water, sanitation and provided security in coordination with local government officials and the Jaffna diocese.
The Navy had constructed a temporary jetty to moor the vessels that carried the devotees. Medical facilities were provided while life savers were deployed.
The High Commission of India and the Consulate General of India had also deployed officials to assist the pilgrims.
The High Commissioner expressed his sincere appreciation to the Bishop of Jaffna and the Sri Lanka Navy for the arrangements made. Kantha said that it is a significant event in the cultural interaction between the two countries.
Indian devotees also expressed their gratitude to the Sri Lankan government and the Navy that made the arrangements.