Close to 2500 Indian pilgrims, comprising mainly fishermen and clergy, participated in the annual St. Anthony’s Festival in Kachchateevu on 3-4 March 2023. About 3000 Sri Lankan pilgrims also took part in the yearly festival.
Douglas Devananda, Minister of Fisheries greeted the pilgrims on their arrival at the Island on 3 March 2023. 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 4 March 2023. This was 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.
Government of India is providing financial assistance for 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 witnesses enthusiastic participation of Indian pilgrims every year. COVID-19 affected the festivities 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 fishermen communities of the maritime neighbours.