Sri Lankan Tamil pilgrims can travel to Chidambaram on ferry | india news | Hindustan Times
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Sri Lankan Tamil pilgrims can travel to Chidambaram on ferry

India said it was approached on behalf of Lord Shiva devotees in Northern Sri Lanka who expressed the desire to visit the Natraj temple in Chidambaram for the Maarkazhi Thiruvembavai festivities.

india Updated: Dec 22, 2017 08:59 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sri Lankan Tamil,Tamil pilgrims,Chidambaram temple
A Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil boy prays during a Hindu temple procession marking the Pongal festival in Colombo. (AP File Photo)

India has accepted a demand from Sri Lankan Tamils to be allowed to travel to the Chidambaram temple in Tamil Nadu for pilgrimage on a ferry.

After Colombo agreed to the demand to open the sea route for Sri Lankan Hindus, India on Thursday said it was also decided to allow the pilgrims to reach the coastal state on a ferry, which works out cheaper than air fare.

“The government was approached on behalf of Lord Shiva devotees in Northern Sri Lanka who expressed the desire to visit the Natraj temple in Chidambaram for the Maarkazhi Thiruvembavai festivities, also known as Arudra darshana festival, which will be held next week from December 27 to January 3. This is a major festival at a particularly sacred temple for Indians and Sri Lankans. In response to the request, India agreed to facilitate the travel through a ferry from Kankesanthurai in Jaffna to Chennai,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs, said.

The demand for opening the sea route to pilgrims was spearheaded by Marvanpulavu Sachchithananthan, who heads a collective of Hindus in the island nation known as the Siva Senai.

Sachchithananthan, who was in Delhi last week to meet officials in the ministry of external affairs and the Sri Lankan embassy to push for setting an early date for the facility, told Hindustan Times that the Siva Senai had negotiated with the Sri Lanka government through the Governor of the Northern Province to permit a pilgrim ship to Chidambaram during Maarkazhi Thiruvembavai festival days.

Sachchithananthan said the annual pilgrimage will be a “moral booster” for the poor who cannot afford a plane travel.