Chennai, December 9 (NIA): The new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, O Panneerselvam, wrote to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, requesting him to allow more pilgrims to attend the consecration of the renovated and enlarged St.Anthony’s chapel on Kachchativu island in Sri Lanka.
Panneerselvam pointed out that while 100 pilgrims from Ramanathapuram alone had sought permission to attend the ceremony, the Central government had accorded ‘political clearance’ only to 20 people from Tamil Nadu.
Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao had written to the Foreign Secretary S.Jaishankar, about this recently.
Since the church is of cultural and religious significance to lakhs of fishermen of Tamil Nadu, many of them are keen to participate in the ceremony, the CM said.
“I request you to kindly direct the Ministry of External Affairs to facilitate the participation of all fishermen devotees from Tamil Nadu who wish to participate in the consecration ceremony, without placing any restriction on the numbers,” he said.
The consecration was to take place on December 7, but it had to be postponed indefinitely following the death of the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, J.Jayalalithaa.
The renovation of the chapel was done free of cost by the Sri Lankan navy at the request of the Bishop of Jaffna in whose Diocese it falls.
(The featured picture at the top shows pilgrims from Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka thronging the statue of St.Anthony as it is taken out in a procession around Kachchativu island which is mid-way between India and Sri Lanka in the Palk Strait).