Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Velankanni church fest and long padayatra (walking barefoot ), India

Velankanni,Church, Tamil Nadu, .wordpress.com

''Pada Yatras'' or 'Foot pilgrimages' - walking barefoot are typically Hindu religious practices undertaken by ardent devotees to the sacred shrines. This annual padayatra is under taken by people with utter devotion and bakthi  either to fulfil their prayer or to offer prayer at the shrine to give them mental strength to succeed in their endeavor, etc.  
Originally Varkari(a pilgrim") padayatra is a sampradaya (religious movement) within the bhakti spiritual tradition of Hinduism and it has been in existence since 13th century. This is common in the Indian state of Maharastra and northern Karnataka. The important aspect of Varkari movement is strict adherence to duty bound, self-disiplined approach  towards meaningful life, giving importance to morality, strict avoidance of non-vegetarian food, alcohol, etc.    
    
A family on Padayatra to Velankanni church., India.www.thehindu.com
 Christians in India particularly in the south in the past one decade or more  follow the Hindu religious tradition of_padayatra to the place of worship. In the months of August and early September, several thousand Christian saffron-clad devotees, including Hindus undertake a strenuous religious commitment -preferably walking barefoot to the Velankanni shrine, in Velankanni, Nagapatnam district, Tamil Nadu.

Padayatra from kattakkada, Kerala. Indiahttp:
www.malankaracatholicchurch.net/photogallery
Our Lady of Good Health Basilica, built in the 16th century is a very popular church and on normal days thousands of people come over here from many parts of India for prayer and blessings. The church is known for apparitions and centuries ago it was modified by the Portuguese,who were saved from near death on the high seas by Annai Mary.  The birth of Velankanni Mary - 29th August and flag-hoisting on the Church premises on 8th September are important events and this long-drawn eleven day festival is celebrated on a grand scale with religious fervor  and fanfare attended by  more than one million people across India.

The amazing aspect of this festival is people's faith in God Almighty and their obsession to get their down-to-earth problems redressed by HIM/Her. Thousands of pilgrims walk barefoot 100 to 300 km , barring the hot tropical sun and sultry conditions. People can use foot wear during the yatra, but many prefer barefoot. Most pilgrims start their padayatra - waking between 2 to 3 am. Walking in the wee hours won't tire them. After  food and rest during mid day they resume their journey in the late afternoon when heat will be down considerably.
 

People of all faiths offer them free food, shelter etc and get their blessings. That, how these fatigued, hollow-eyed, half emaciated pilgrims  that resulted from  pretty long-distance walk under scorching tropical sun successfully complete the pilgrimage, may stagger one's imagination. The hurdles including ominous contagious diseases,  open terrain, heat etc may be deterrents for us, not for them because their concentration, conviction of commitment and above all faith keep them pushing. Once their religious goal is achieved,  their fatigue, exertion, etc get driven out by the euphoric feeling of being right before the mystifying and miraculous  Our Lady of Health - Annai Velankanni.

Tit-Bits:

 01. This year the annual fest at the shrine of Velankanni took off on August, 29, 2015 with flag-hoisting and holy procession.

 02. A large number of pilgrims from various Indian states actively participate in the first day litany and benediction and holy mass.


 03.Yet another important event held was holy mass  and blessings of the sick in the main shrine.

04.The festival will be concluded on 8th September.
Masses are conducted in many Indian languages, including  Konkani (widely spoken in Goa and North Karnataka) from morning till evening all through the festival days.

 04.The District administration has installed numerous surveillance cameras and CCTV at vantage points  besides numerous precautionary measures to prevent any untoward incidences.

Ref:
ww.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/they-go-on-padayatra-with-just-faith/arti