Festival atmosphere in Batticaloa

[TamilNet, Saturday, 25 July 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Outside the temple premises at Amirthakali, it was carnival time. The Batticaloa Municipal Council, the District Secretariat, the Bank of Ceylon and institutions dealing with the public, set up temporary offices outside the temple.

Over 200,000 devotees and sightseers are estimated to have visited the temple and stayed late into the night to celebrate the three day festival which culminated in the 'Theertham' ceremony on Wednesday.

The festival attracted people from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) controlled areas, many of whom had to walk over 15 km because those areas are not serviced by public transport, said sources. There were visitors from Colombo too.

Schools remained closed during the three days and offices, unable to function due to the absence of staff, closed by noon.

The shops owned by Hindus in Batticaloa town were closed, while Muslim shops were without business.

Outside the temple premises at Amirthakali, it was carnival time. The Batticaloa Municipal Council, the District Secretariat, the Bank of Ceylon and institutions dealing with the public, set up temporary offices outside the temple.

Shops lined the roads on both sides up to a distance of 400 meters were selling household ware, clothes and other consumer items. A special attraction at the carnival was the well of death.

Food was served free of charge at the temple throughout the day sponsored by the temple s trustees and benefactors.

A feature eliciting the public's gratitude was the Sri Lanka Army (SLA), despite having a camp nearby, relaxed security checks and SLA personnel were even seen in the temple premises in civvies, fraternising with the devotees.

The sense of freedom was so great that groups of youth cycled on the road to Arirthakali all through the night, merely to breathe the air of the streets free of checkpoints.

The public reaction to the festival Sri Mamangeswar Aalayam is not only an eloquent testimony of how much the public craves for peace, but also its ability to set aside its cares and woes to savour moments of joy that are all too short in this war torn area, said sources.

 

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