(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The annual two-day festival at St. Anthony’s Church on Katchatheevu islet will be held on February 23 and 24, according to Indian media reports.
The Jaffna Diocese, which organized the festival, has announced the dates for the festival but yet to formally extend an invitation to the Verkodu parish in Rameswaram, which organized the Indian pilgrimage for the festival, The Hindu reported.
Rev Fr Anthonysamy, priest of the Verkodu parish, who is the chief coordinator of the Indian pilgrimage, said that it had been confirmed that the festival would be held on February 23 and 24 but the parish was yet to receive invitation from the Jaffna diocese.
The parish would seek permission from the district administration for the pilgrimage and invite applications for the pilgrimage once the invitation was received, he said.
The new St. Anthony’s Church in Katchatheevu, built by the Sri Lanka Navy, was bestowed on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jaffna on 23rd December 2016.
According to Verkodu parish priest and chief coordinator of the Indian pilgrimage, a record number of Indian pilgrims have confirmed their participation in the feast this year held in March 11 and 12.
However, following the arrests of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, Rameswaram fishermen have decided to boycott the two-day festival.
This time, the fisher folk from the Rameswaram island would take part in the festival as a matter of right, fishermen leader P Sesu Raja has said. The Church was established by their ancestors and they do not wish to give up their rights over the church, he said.
He said the fishermen, who had made ready a 35-foot teak wood flag mast for the newly built St Antony�s church in the islet by the Jaffna diocese, would take the mast along with them to be given to the church.