Grand finale of three days annual feast of St. Lawrence at Attur-Karkala

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Report and Pictures by Dr. Eugene D’Souza, Moodubelle

Karkal, 29 January 2010: The three days annual feast of St. Lawrence at Attur-Karkala came to an end with the last Mass of the festive days at 5.30 pm on Thursday, 28th January 2010. From the first day of the feast on Tuesday, 26th January to the third day on Thursday, 28th January 2010 there were altogether 28 Masses including solemn festive Masses.

Thursday, 28th January 2010 was celebrated by the parishioners of Attur as their parish feast day dedicated to Our Lady of Guide (Giad Saibinichem Festh). According to an account, before Attur parish came to be dedicated to St. Lawrence, the original church had Our Lady of Guide as the patroness. To honour Our Lady of Guide, the feast on Thursday has been dedicated to her. On Thursday, 28th January 2010, the parishioners attended the feast Mass at 10 am in large numbers along with other pilgrims. The parish priest, Fr. Arthur Pereira distributed candles of honour to the members of the parish council, gurkars and presidents of the parish associations and the sponsors of the feast Mass. The feast Mass at 10 am was offered by Rev. Fr. Rony Prabhu, the Episcopal Vicar.

The three days of the annual feast of St. Lawrence have been quite hectic. The lakhs of devotees and pilgrims who poured into the Shrine for these three days had a smooth ‘darshan’ of the saint and could attend one festive Mass or the other without any hassle. There was no untoward incident of either of theft or chain snatching or any other criminal activity.

The smooth conduct of such a massive confluence of pilgrims belonging to different religions and walks of life was possible because of the thorough planning, preparation and logistics which are worth understanding.

According to Mr. John D’Silva, vice-president of the Parish Pastoral Council, the planning and preparations for the annual feast had already started from the month of October, 2009 when the Bishop of Mangalore, Rev. Dr. Aloysius D’Souza had a meeting with the St. Lawrence Shrine Committee to chalk out the plan for the celebration of the annual feast. Another meeting was held in the first week of January 2010 with the representatives of the Nitte Grama Panchayat aand other government departments including police, MESCOM, excise, fire brigade, PWD, Community Health Centre, Taluk and Zilla Panchayat representatives, Tahshildars and Executive Officer.

The logistic preparation for this year’s annual feast of St. Lawrence had started from 14th January 2010 when the work of erecting a huge pandal of coconut palm leaves was started and completed in three days. The pandal and shamiana were erected by Preetham Enterprises of Moodubelle. According to Pravin around100 areca nut tree poles, 750 long thin bamboos (seeme) and 5000 coconut palm leaves have been used to put up the giant pandal covering an area of 21,000 square feet. On 22nd January 2010 they had erected a huge shamiana that covered around 28,000 square feet. The total area covered by both pandal and shamiana shows that the Shrine of St. Lawrence at Attur attracts lakhs of devotees and pilgrims during these three days of the annual feast of St. Lawrence.

The Parish Pastoral Council had meetings with various committees. According to Mrs. Matilda Lasrado, president of the Catholic Sabha of Karkala Varado who was the coordinator of the volunteers, nearly 300 volunteers to usher and maintain order and discipline within the church during the Masses and outside at spots of veneration such as at the relic, ‘Statue of of Miracle’, within the old curch and at the spot where candles were burnt and other places came from different neighbouring parishes such as Nellikar, Hirgan, Miyar, Kanajar, Ajekar, Karkala Town and Nakre. Different parish choirs also volunteered to provide their service at different Masses. The liturgical services such as readings were distributed among different groups within the parish and among other parishioners as well.

There were regular announcements at different intervals both in Konkani and Kannada for all the three days practically round the clock on the first two days. The announcement was handled by George Castelino, Richard Pinto, Melvyn Castelino, Prakash Ajekar and Frderick Pinto of Hirgan. These announcers did wonderful job in giving details of Masses, direction for the pilgrims, services available in the church campus and cautioning the pilgrims about the safety of their belongings.

There was excellent power supply through generators provided by Vailankani Electricals of Mangalore who had also beautifully and aesthetically lighted up and illuminated the entire church building, bell tower and the main entrances and edges of the pandals and the hill.

The Community Health Centre of Nitte had their centre within the church campus to province first aid to the needy pilgrims. Doctors, staff nurses, attendants and other officials to supervise the sanitation and chlorination of water were on shift duty throughout the three days. They also had an ambulance stationed close by for any emergency. The Nitte Grama Panchayat within whose jurisdiction the Attur Church is located had made arrangements to remove the garbage and disinfect the area especially around the stalls which had been selling water melons and sugar cane juice. The fire brigade vehicle was kept ready to meet any unforeseen emergency.

Rev. Fr. Arthur Pereira

Mrs. Matilda Lasrado

Mr. John D’Silva

Mr. Roshan and Mr. Pravin Castelino

Mr. Victor Pereira

The police force with their control centre near the main entrance of the church campus was on duty right from the first day in two shift duty-from 9am to 9pm and from 9pm to 9am. According to ASI Rajgopal, the actual need of the security personnel was around 175. However, they had only around 130 to manage the increasing number of the pilgrims. In spite of the paucity of security personnel, ASI Rajgopal said that they had no pressure of work as the pilgrims, though belonged to different religions and communities were well disciplined and there were no complaints of any theft or chain snatching, neither there were any quarrels or fights.

There were two separate areas reserved for the parking of buses and private vehicles. Those vehicles coming from the southern direction had to use the parking space at Dupada Katte and those coming from the northern direction by the side of St. Lawrence High School. Vehicles with the passes aand VIP vehicles could proceed up to the campus of the church.

According to Victor Pereira, the retired teacher and a veteran in the church affairs of Attur, the stalls within the church campus were allotted to diocesan institutions such as Mangala Jyothi, Rakno and other services. The stalls on the sides of the road were rented out by the Nitte Grama Panchayat. There were around 50 stalls on the church land which were rented out by the church.

There had been provision for the direct telecast of the festival events from the church campus through V-4 channel produced by the Namma Kudla production unit. The telecast was sponsored by Westen Institute of technology, Mangalore. They had also arranged for the close circuit television to telecast the Masses for the benefit of the people who had to stand outside the church due to overcrowding inside.

The food for the security personnel, volunteers, people associated with other departments and priests totaling around 700 per day was provided by brothers-Pravin and Roshan Castelino of Moodubelle. They had been rendering this service since seven years. In the kitchen around 25 persons were working at a time to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner. Tea was made available round the clock for those who required besides the regular timings. For the three days of the festival sufficient provisions were acquired in advance. They also had made arrangements for the flowers for decoration and offerings which were acquired from Bangalore.

The meticulous planning, preparation and logistics and cooperation from the security personnel, medical staff, volunteers, and other personnel associated with providing food, power, sanitation, etc. were chiefly responsible for the success of the three days annual festival at the Shrine of St. Lawrence at Attur. Finally, it cannot be forgotten that it was large number of priests who offered Masses, preached homilies, heard confessions, distributed Holy Communion, blessed the sick and helped the Director of St. Lawrence Shrine, Rev. Fr. Arthur Pereira as coordinators of various committees.

Finally, the three days grand and solemn festival of St. Lawrence at Attur-Karkala has come to an end peacefully and without any mishap by the intercession of St. Lawrence. The devotees and pilgrims have gone back with his blessing with a vow that they will come back again next year.

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Comments on this Article
Denzil D sa, attur bahrain Sat, January-30-2010, 1:38
thanx for bellevision
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