08/20/2012, 00.00
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Sri Lankan refugees, Hindus and Christians, around Our Lady of Madhu

by Nirmala Carvalho
For the first time, the Capuchin Fathers in Vazhavanthan Kottai refugee camp (Tamil Nadu) organized the festival in honor of the Virgin Mary, venerated by Catholics and Sri Lankans. India "hosts" thousands of refugees from the civil war in 118 camps. A priest denounces the plight of Sri Lankan refugees in India.

Chennai (AsiaNews) - A "miracle of unity and peace" capable of gathering "Hindus and Christians together" is how Fr. Nithiya OFM, Executive Secretary of the Office for Human Development of the Federation of Asian Bishop Conferences (FABC), described the  feast in honor of Our Lady of Madhu, honored in Sri Lanka and for the first time celebrated in India to AsiaNews. For 11 days, the Sri Lankan refugee camp in Vazhavanthan Kottai, near Trichy (Tamil Nadu), hosted the statue of Our Lady of Madhu, welcoming Catholics and not only from the 118 refugee camps in the Indian state.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu (diocese of Mannar, Sri Lanka) is a place of great devotion for the Catholic Tamil and Sinhalese, and a symbol of unity between them and the faithful of all religions. Every year, on the occasion of the Solemnity of the Assumption, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims come to Madhu.

The Capuchins have run the camp at Vazhavanthan Kottai for 22 years, devoted to social development and pastoral care of refugees. Education, basic health services, courses in tailoring and computer science are the main activities. However, given the difficulties of going to Sri Lanka for the pilgrimage and the harsh conditions in which the Tamil refugees live, led the priests to create a sanctuary in India. For the occasion, Fr. Nithiya and Fr. Selva brought the statue of Our Lady to Trichy.

During and after the civil war in Sri Lanka, thousands of Tamils ​​ fled to India, "welcomed" to 118 refugee camps in Tamil Nadu. "Here - explains Fr. Nithiya - there is no transparency or clarity. Nobody takes responsibility for what happens in the camps and in police stations. There are no controls, and I do not know if there is procedure to appeal and report abuse. No country has the right to torture men and women just because they are citizens of another State. This is a symptom of  a lack of human consciousness and social thought. No democracy should tolerate such a condition of the human being. When it comes to torture, India is no different from other countries. "

In Sri Lanka, meanwhile, the Christian Solidarity Movement (CSM) has dedicated the prayers of the Solemnity of the Assumption to all IDPs (internally displaced people, IDPs) of the civil war, in particular Mullikulam refugees.


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