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Vailankanni - Arokia Matha
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x �Our lady of Good Health� popularly called "Our Lady of Vailankanni" is artributed to Mary, mother of Jesus in the small town of Velankanni, Tamil Nadu, India located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal. It is located 150 miles south of Madras in Tamil Nadu and 5 miles south of Nagapattinam. Our lady chose this place to dispense her miracles to mankind. A strong oral tradition attests to Our Lady�s apparitions at Vailankanni (Velankanni) A Basilica artributed to both Portuguese and Indians stands in and around the sites of three apparitions. The iconic depiction of Our Lady of Good Health is also unique since it is one of two only icons where Mother Mary is shown wearing a sari (the only other is said to have been buried by Aurangzeb)
The Church is known for thousands of pilgrims from all over India to be assembled for multilingual prayers every Christmas.
The three Apparition
First Apparition
The first of the apparitions in Vailankanni is claimed to be to a Hindu boy in mid sixteenth century. It is said that while he rested under a native banyan tree near a pond. A lady appeared to him and requested milk for her son. The boy readily agreed. On reaching the customer's home, the boy apologized for his lateness and the reduced amount of milk and related the incident that occurred on his way. However, upon inspection of his order, the man found the milk pot to be full and was convinced that something miraculous should have happened. Together the man, also a Hindu, and the boy returned to the place where the apparition had occurred. When they reached the pond, the lady appeared once again. On learning that it was Mary, mother of Jesus, who appeared to the boy, the residents of the local Catholic community became ecstatic and promptly renamed the pond Matha Kulam or, Our Lady's Pond.
Second Apparition
Later towards the end of the 16th century, it is believed, that Mary appeared to a crippled boy (and also a son of a widow) in a place called Nadu Thittu, once again in the same town of Velankanni. The boy is claimed to have offered her buttermilk and then cured of his illness. The boy was commanded by Mary to inform a Catholic gentleman in the nearby town of Nagapattinam. The first thatched shrine was built by this Catholic gentleman.
Third Apparition
In the 17th century, a Portuguese merchant vessel, sailing from Macau in China to Colombo in Sri Lanka was caught in a tempest in the Bay of Bengal. The sailors at the point of desolation vowed to build a chapel in her name wherever they could reach safe. The legends claim that stormy sea became quiet and their ship reached the shore of Vailankanni on the 8th of September the Birthday of Mary. In fulfillment of their vow, the Portuguese sailors put up a chapel at Vailankanni by transforming the earlier thatched chapel
Today, the celebration of this feast is an annual festival which lasts for 9 days and draws more than a million and a half pilgrims. Vailankanni attracts more pilgrims than any other sacred shrine in India. Not only do multitudes of Catholic travel there throughout the year but many non-Christians visit as well. Hundreds of miraculous cures are reported every year
Prayers and Offerings
Centuries of devotion to Mother Mary both by Hindus and Christians have evolved an amalgamation of practices borrowing elements from both religions. It is said that the portrayal of Virgin Mary as a curer of illness and a victor over all demonic forces is seen by local Hindus as an artribute equivalent of Hindu Goddess Mariamman. The practises include bathing in the sea, shaving heads, walking on knees or rolling in the shrine as a ritual.
It is also common to find traditions of offering a candle in the shape of the respective ailment- a heart in case of cardiac complications, a liver in case of jaundice, lungs in case of tuberculosis and so on. In case of the ailment getting cured, many bring with them small gold and silver replicas of parts of the body that has been cured to donate to the church. Devoties clad in orange (or saffron) robes.
Some times offering are sent in sealed bottles or big hollow bamboos duly closed and thrown in to the sea with the address of the shrine written on them. Such offerings are believed to reach the holy spot
Area : Velankanni
Bus Route :
It is located 150 miles south of Madras in Tamil Nadu and 5 miles south of Nagapattinam
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