About 100 Indian pilgrims, mostly fishermen and priests, attended the annual festival at St. Anthony of Kachchateevu Shrine in Jaffna, the Indian High Commission said here.

The two-day festival, which highlights the deep people-to-people ties between India and Sri Lanka as well as enduring cultural ties, was held on March 11-12.

“Nearly 100 Indian pilgrims, mostly fishermen and priests, took part in the annual festival at St. Anthony’s Shrine in Kachchateevu on March 11-12, 2022,” the high commission said in a statement on Saturday.

Sri Lanka’s Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda greeted the pilgrims upon their arrival on the island.

According to the statement, the annual festival sees the enthusiastic participation of Indian pilgrims every year.

“More than 3,000 Indian pilgrims participated in 2020. These Indian pilgrims are provided with consular and other forms of assistance by the Consulate General of India in Jaffna,” the statement added.

A late evening Mass was held the same day after special prayers for pilgrims to mark the Festival.

“A special Mass dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of fishermen, was presided over by Indian and Sri Lankan priests on March 12. It was followed by the traditional feast,” the statement read.

The festival highlights the deep people-to-people ties between India and Sri Lanka as well as the enduring cultural ties.

”The participation of fishermen from both countries paves the way for close interaction between them and provides an opportunity to get to know each other and their problems better. The mainstay of the centuries-old connection has been such interactions and close ties between the peoples of the two close maritime neighbours,” the statement read. India’s Consul General in Jaffna, Raakesh Natraj and other consulate officials were special guests, he added.

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