A total of around 800,000 devotees are expected to render their prayers at the basilica Our Lady of Health located in Velankanni – a small town in Nagapattinam district in Tamil Nadu – during the 11 day festival, said an official. The festival starts on August 29 with the hoisting of the church flag and would end on September 8.
“Around seven-eight lakh devotees from different faiths are expected to visit Velankanni church during the festival that starts on August 29. On certain days the number of people will go up to 300,000,” Fr E.J.Thomas, Director, Shrine Media told IANS over phone from Velankanni. He said people from the southern states and also from Maharashtra, Odisha and other states would visit Velankanni during the festival time.
A police official in Velankanni told IANS that security and other arrangements have been made to handle the devotees who congregate in large numbers. “There are open space around the church and crowd management will not be an issue,” the police official added not wanting to be quoted.
According to Thomas, special mass will be held in Tamil, English, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi and Konkani. During the festival, the church car will be pulled by the devotees.
He said this is the first festival after the renovation of the main shrine. The state-owned transport corporation and Indian Railways have announced special services to handle the additional passenger load to Velankanni from different places.