Velankanni, Aug 29: The annual feast of the Shrine Basilica, Our Lady of Good Health, one of the biggest Catholic pilgrimage centre in the country began on Thursday evening at Velankanni in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu with holy flag hoisting ceremony. The flag of ‘Ave Maria’ was hoisted by Most Rev. Dr.M.Devadass Ambrose, Bishop of Thanjavur, followed by litany, benediction and mass in Tamil in the shrine auditorium amidst chanting of prayers by thousands of devotees, who thronged the shrine from various parts of the country and abroad.
Earlier, the 22-ft long and 14-ft broad Ave Maria flag was taken in procession around the church. The most important event of ‘Birthday of Our Blessed Mother’ and concelebrated Feast Mass will be held on September 8, the final day of the annual feast. The event would be presided over by Most.Rev.Dr.Nazarene Soosai, Bishop of Kottar. High mass in Tamil, English, Marathi, Konkani, Malayalam, Telugu and Hindi would be conducted every day in the basilica from morning till evening during the 11-day feast.
Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation is operating special buses from various destinations to Velankanni and the Southern Railway have also arranged special passenger trains for the feast.The special trains were operated between Tiruchirapalli-Velankanni-Thanjavur from August 29 to September 9 and also between Velankanni and Nagapattinam to clear extra rush of traffic. Tight security arrangements were made in and around Velankanni in the wake of terror threats. Over 65 CCTV cameras were fixed at vantage points to monitor the movement of devotees. A total of 1,800 police personnelwere deployed for security under the direct supervision of J.Loganathan, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Thanjavur. UNI