|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|
|Padayatra from kattakkada, Kerala. Indiahttp:|
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.
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.