Close to 2,500 Indian pilgrims comprising mainly fishermen and clergy as well as around 3,000 Sri Lankan pilgrims participated in the annual St. Anthony’s Festival in Kachchatheevu on March 03 – 04.
Minister of Fisheries – Douglas Devananda, greeted the pilgrims on their arrival at the Island on March 03. Special Prayers and a late evening mass were held on the same day to mark the Festival. A special Mass dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua, the patron Saint of Fishermen was jointly conducted by priests from India and Sri Lanka on March 04, followed by the traditional feast.
Stalls displaying and selling artisanal works of both Indian and Sri Lankan pilgrims were set up, adding further color to the festivities.
The Government of India is providing financial assistance for the organization of the festivities this year. Consul General of India in Jaffna – Raakesh Natraj and other officials of the Consulate were special invitees at the Festival.
The annual Festival, which witnesses enthusiastic participation pilgrims every year, has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the last two years. The festival underscores strong people to people ties between India and Sri Lanka while also paving way for close interaction between fishing communities of the two neighbouring nations.