The annual two-day ‘Katchatheevu festival’ at the St Antony’s Church at the uninhabited Katchatheevu islet in the Palk Bay will be held on February 23 and 24, according to reports received here.
The Jaffna Diocese, which organised the festival, has announced the dates for the festival but yet to formally extend an invitation to the Verkodu parish in Rameswaram, which organised the Indian pilgrimage for the festival.
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 Verkodu parish had boycotted the festival held in March 11 and 12 this year as a mark of protest after Rameswaram fisherman K Britjo was allegedly shot dead by the Sri Lankan navy, while he was fishing on the high seas on the night of March 6.
This time, the fisherfolk from the island would take part in the festival as a matter of right, said fishermen leader P Sesu Raja 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.
After the Jaffna diocese had consecrated the newly built church in December 2016, the Rameswaram fishermen offered to donate flag mast, monstrances for worship, chalice for holy mass and a statue of St. Antony to be installed at the Church. The items could not be taken in March in view of the boycott of the festival. (The Hindu)