Pada Yatra foot pilgrims reach Kataragama
by N. Nelson Piyaratne
Kataragama group correspondent
|Relatively peaceful conditions in the Eastern Province have prompted more pilgrims to walk to Kataragama this year than in past years. Photo of 1992 Pada Yatra by Patrick Harrigan.
According to those who walked from Trincomalee, far fewer terrorists were in evidence this year compared to previous years. However, an isolated attack occurred at Eravur on June 17 just as the pilgrims were passing by the Eravur police station. Several combatants were killed or injured in the incident but miraculously no Kataragama pilgrims were injured. The pilgrims believe that they are protected by God Kataragama at all times.
Nevertheless, almost every year the Yala jungle claims the life of at least one pilgrim. Already this year security officials in the park discovered the body of a swami from Karaitivu who had been mauled by a bear. Security officials in the park have been helping to evacuate the sick and elderly pilgrims by vehicle to the Kataragama district hospital.
According to KDT Pada Yatra field representative Patrick Harrigan, the Kataragama Pada Yatra traditions has for centuries been one of the great unifying factors in Sri Lankan society. The Pada Yatra swamis, he said, are looking forward to the day when they can once again walk from all corners of the island including the Jaffna and Mullaitivu districts.
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