Katchatheevu Church Festival To Be Held On February 23: Restrictions On Number Of Tamil Nadu Fishermen To Attend

The annual St. Anthony’s church festival held in the islet of Katchatheevu near here, in which thousands of fisher-folks who set sail from Tamil Nadu participate along with Tamil fishermen and their kin from Northern Sri Lanka, is scheduled to be held for two days From February 23, 2018.

Every year, for the fishermen here and for their counterparts in Northern Sri Lanka, who fish in the Palk Straits for their daily livelihood, offering prayers at St Antony’s shrine in Katchatheevu is an act of thanks-giving is their ‘Kaaval Deivam (protector-God)’. 

While the festival is usually held either in the last week of February or first week of March every year, in the coming New Year 2018, the St Antony’s festival would take place on February 23 and February 24, the Bishop of Jaffna Diocese announced. Under the ‘Katchatheevu Agreement’, fishermen and their families visiting Katchatheevu for the festival will not require any passport or visas.

However, according to some of the Fishermen Associations’ representatives in India for the 2018 Katchatheevu Festival, the number of fishermen-invitees from Tamil Nadu would be severely restricted, as disclosed by the Sri Lankan government authorities. Apparently, this has also been conveyed to the Indian Government.

Mr. S. Muruganandam, state president of Tamil Nadu Coastal Fish Workers Association and Mr. Domnic Ravi, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Fishermen’s Forum, the coordination committee which takes care of the formalities on the Indian side at Rameswaram have also confirmed that only up to 60 boats, ferrying fishers from Tamil Nadu, will be permitted for the Katchatheevu church festival in 2018.

Strongly condemning the Sri Lankan government severely curtailing the number of Tamil Nadu fishermen who would like to attend this annual festival, which is also an occasion of emotional re-union with their Tamil fishers counterpart in Sri Lanka, they urged the Central and State governments to take immediate action to ensure that there is no cap on the number of fishers participating in the festival.

 

 

 

 

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