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Since Tuesday morning, hundreds of believers have been rushing to Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine in Chennai after news spread that a statue of mother Mary blinked its eyes.
The church organises a special feast for 11 days---currently, the 113th annual feast and 66th national pilgrimage celebrations are in progress---at the shrine located in Perambur, a locality in north Chennai.
On the left entrance of the shrine, perched atop a glass-fronted wall, is the statue of mother Mary.
On Tuesday morning, news of the statue blinking its eyes spread and a huge crowd gathered outside the shrine to witness the "miracle".
The news also generated social media frenzy. While believers "thanked God for the miracle", sceptics questioned its veracity.
Josephine Roche, a regular at the church, said she had never seen such a miracle in Chennai before.
The shrine's architecture itself is inspired from the Lourdes Shrine in France.
"In France the original church was mainly built at the place where Mary herself is believed to have appeared to a shepherd girl," Roche said.
She believes "the miracle" will attract more pilgrims during the ongoing feast at the shrine, which is also one of the largest parishes in Chennai. But a rationalist and social activist, who did not want to be named, dismissed the incident as the church's another crowd-pulling tactic.
"Please ignore. Not worth wasting your time," he said.
Maalai Malar, a Tamil daily, reported that the church was cleaned recently for the celebrations. The glass wall was also refurbished, which might have created an illusion of the statue opening its eyes, the report said.
HT's attempt to contact father Joseph Andrew, in charge of the church, was unsuccessful as he was busy organising the feast.