All posts by gpadmin

THE DECEMBER OCKHI

The devastating cyclone. OCKHI that ravaged the western coast and swallowed many of our brethren along with their vessels in December 2017. deserves to be recorded in the pages of Global Paravar.
Though a professor from the area who spoke to me could tell me that Forty four coastal villages , 36 from Kottar diocese and 8 from Trivandrum diocese suffered the impact of the cyclone, he could not pin pointedly inform me how many lives these villages lost, how many dead they could get back from the sea , and how many boats wrecked and lost and how many are yet to return.This was sometime prior to Christmas.
I requested him to make this study and document this tragedy with —NAMES, FATHER’s NAMES, AGE, ADDRESS, IDENTIFICATION MARKS, PLACE OF BURIAL, NAMES OF WIFE WITH FATHER’s NAME AND NAMES OF CHILDREN of the dead and lost. It is a tough task, as I know from experience , no two agencies agree on the exact numbers of men and materials lost in such extensive tragedies. Nevertheless , the official figures , according to fr. Churchill who deals with the affairs of this tragedy are :— 171 missing from Kanyakumari district . 42 missing from other districts and 8 from other states. 16 mechanised boats and more than 150 boats have sunk.
According to Government 149 from Kanyakumari disrtrict have been lost . In Tamilnadu totally 197 were totally missing. Of these 37 were from other districts. 9 are from other states.These 37 includes 3 from Tuticorin,19 from Cuddalore, 16 from Nagapattinam, 1 from Pudukottai. The Government had reported that already in 16 cases , 20 Lakh rs has already paid to each for 16 dead . There has been dispute regarding descendant in two cases of death and the relief has been withheld by the Government.
It is necessary that enlightened bodies engaged in rendering assistance to the deprived of the area work in close co ordination with the local Government, to get the best solace, support, succour for those who suffered loss in this tragedy. They should not take a strident posture with the Government and indulge in conflicts . In fact in each of the 44 afffected villages there should be one liaison group to work in tandem with the Government.
It is now in the knowledge of many that congregations of nuns have moved their Social work wings to the area, and are collecting Data in the villages. Some of the sisters informed me that they find it difficult to collect details of dead and lost as the villagers are too stunned and too immersed in sadness to recall and retell facts. The congregations would do well to stop scurrying for facts for the present , so close to tragedy but concentrate on rendering spiritual solace to them first with prayers and Counselling . Direct data collection can wait for the present as it affects the psyche of sufferer too painfully.
I am informed by the sisters that there are many young ladies who had lost their husbands and who have many children to be reared. Should we not think of the future of the widows, their livelihood , the education of their children. What is that we the unaffected ,the comparatively comfortable among us , the educated among us, the religious congregations, the church, those who run schools and colleges, those who run hospitals, industries, business houses to do for these people .? Can we think of instituting scholarship for the children ? Can we think of rendering assistance to get them back on their feet ? Can we not give preference and help to these children and families either to take up their own traditional jobs or find new jobs in Government, in our schools ,colleges, business houses? Why should not laymen of our community in each-in-land diocese collectively organise scholarships for children of widows in colleges in and around, Nagercoil, Trivandrum and Thoothur and Thoothukudi.
Though the Government had announced relief of rs 20 lakhs to each deceased family, I learn it is yet to come for all..it will come sooner or later. But when it comes, what use should be made of it is very important . In my experience I have noticed many new relatives suddenly springing up and rendering un solicited advice on investments like lending for interest etc. I have also seen bitter feuds among relatives and friends to share the amount. The correct course would be to lock the money in a long term fixed deposit for interest in a nearby National bank.The enlightened must guide the beneficiaries in this suitably.
The cyclone has focused the attention of the Government to a few demands. They are.
  1. The dire need for communication facilities from the shore to the boats in the sea. And communication facilities among the boats themselves while in the seas.The long staying, deep sea fishermen of the western coast need SAT-phones from shores to the boats in the sea. The sat phones are costly . Therefore, these SAT phones can be provided and installed in the shores by the fishery department on shore control rooms, to be organised and located in the scale of one phone for one village by the Government at its cost. The deep sea boats must compulsorily be provided with SAT phones by the vessel owners at their cost . The Government should provide Long Term Easy instalment loans for purchasing and installing these SAT phones. This will definitely facilitate communication between shore and deep sea . A few non sea -Sensitive government officials are heard remarking that security is involved. In provision of Sat phones to fishermen. Nothing could be more ridiculous. The fishermen often gloat that they are the unpaid sentinels of our shore. The officials should open their minds to new thoughts instead of having biased and blind ,untested ideas.
    The other method of communication between shores and the deep sea would be to have the time tested HF SETS either Voice or Morse coded. Morse coded would involve training of manpower . Recently , I learn Tamilnadu Police did a way with this communication system , while bringing in new technologies ,the competence of which is being tested. These dismantled systems must be lying somewhere waiting to be scrapped. A Morse station on shore in each of the group of four villages linked with morse sets in the deep sea boats would be sufficient to handle the communication problem.
    For communication among boats in the sea ,the Government , I learn, has launched a programme of providing VHF sets. This may be useful in the eastern coast ,where the fishermen do not go far into the seaand stay long. It is doubtful whether this would be of benefit in the western coast where the fishing is in the deep sea and for long time. If this has to be successful,, repeater towers and stations may have to be established in the islands in Lakshadweep area or in heavy barges in the mid sea .The Government officials would do,well to consult department of communication quickly and install any of the system that facilitates communication between the sea and the shore before we become a victim of another cyclone.
  2. The second demand is for quick rescue teams . The wailing and agonising question of fisher women of the south western coast, these days is where is my protector— the mighty ships with aeroplanes, the squadrons of helicopters, —that she was rightly proud of , when she saw them sailing or flying in the television advertisements. The answer lies in preparing a plan , all along the coast , and ear marking jurisdiction of units of navy and Air Force , for rescue. In other words, preparation of a contingency scheme. The western fishermen feel that they need to have swift operation by helicopters and search planes as they would do in the event of disaster in land. They require helipads to be constructed and kept ready in each ten villages . They ironically question when helipads could be erected for VIPs for their jaunts, why should they not be erected in a few places along the coast ready for such rescue missions.
  3. The third demand is the abrogation of the present practice of waiting for seven years to declare a fisherman dead, if he is lost or dead in the sea. It is cruel that the widows wait for scour and financial relief for seven long yeas . What is the use of family getting relief after seven years on the basis of available in records is in fisheries fisheries departments
  4. The fourth demand is separate ministry at the centre for Fisheries. At present , the subject is being looked after by a joint secretary in the ministry of agriculture. A separate ministry would assist the fisherman with undivided attention .
  5. The fifth demand is Provision of loans for reconstruction on easy interest besides past loans raised for the sunken boats as the Governmens do in the case of agriculturists , during natural disasters.
The fisherfolk loudly clamoured in various interviews in televisions during the post cyclone days that they lack political representation as they are more in sea than in land. They expressed that the Government had not responded to the crisis quickly as they lack political power as they have no one to speak for them.They vociferously demanded that the electoral constituencies should be redrawn along the coast so that out of 38. Legislative constituencies that has fishermen population , at least 13 constituencies, which are exclusively theirs which will give them opportunity to express their grievances.
Let us all stand in unison with victims of OCKHI.
by A.X Alexander

Recruitment in Tamilnadu Police

The Government of Tamilnadu has announced recruitment of 6140 constables in Tamilnadu Police.. This includes recruitment of Lady constables also. The application has to be done online.

Pl. see the newspapers on 25 th 26 Th and 27 th for further details on age , qualification, tests, —written and physical etc. Or check with your Police friends or in the police station.

Being in the Police is participating in the power structure of society. Qualifying youngsters —girls and boys — must make an attempt. With the strong physique and intelligence that our  youth possess with a little coaching in appropriate centres , it is expected that they would do well. Our target must be at least 200 boys and constables.
Those who read this , pl. encourage our youngsters to apply and compete.

By A.X Alexander

The Eastern Fishermen and the Deep Sea Fishing

There had been two instances of rounding up of Indian fishermen in the palk straits as they were fishing off the coast of Rameshwaram  this week, even when officials and ministers of the two nations Srilanka and India were discussing bilateral issues concerning fishermen of the countries and the country was celebrating Deepavali.

New mode of fishing and sea farming and employing long liners and deep sea fishing are the panacea prescribed and floated in the meet by  Indian officials according to the information available in the press. What the counterparts from the neighbouring nation offered in the meet was not very explicitly known. 

The suggestions to have long liners for deep sea fishing are received with lukewarm response, by the traditional east coast fishers, the reason being that they, unlike the Western coast seamen are not tuned for long period stay in the mid sea. They are Quickers, used to overnight stay or at best two nights stay. 

Further they do not seem to have the seed capital to qualify for further assistance of subsidies, to build and operate the long liners meant for deep sea fishing  that the Government avowedly champions. 

Further, the  most enterprising of these eastern fish lords are in dark on what would befall on the trawlers they have with them already which they have procured with loans from banks and  private bodies and persons if they perchance opt for long liners for deep sea fishing.

No effort seems to have been taken to propagate the idea of deep sea fishing amidst such quick sea operators ,as a result , the scheme of deep sea fishing advocated by the Government with attractive subsidies  is almost a non starter, with traditional fishermen for whose sake this has been conceived. It is feared that the scheme is likely to be grabbed by big corporates and companies  ultimately leaving the traditional sea – fisher in the east coast high and dry.

Though the traditional fishermen ignore this scheme,they are glad that the Government of India has put a stop to the shooting down by Srilankan Navy , of fishermen who unwittingly cross the border which he rarely recognises, as it is  his traditional fish -ground and as he well knows that the original agreement between the two countries does not forbid him from his fishing operation in his historical waters and resting ground and as he is well aware that all over the world pursuing finny  drove is  not a serious flagrancy.

But they feel the Government should come forward to  stop the  harassment not so much of the arrests the Srilankan navy makes  but of the damages they cause to the Indian boats wantonly even when they are in sea , and also when they are docked in their ports after seizure, as the boats are built at high cost made good by borrowings and investing their  life time savings : and of the piracy  they  indulge in by plundering their catch and their personal belonging like GPS , Wilkie talkies,  and spares of engines of boats . 

According to fishermen in the eastern coast, the immediate concern of our Government should be 

  1. Prevention of malicious arrests, 
  2. Prevention of wilful wreckage of seized boats.
  3. Prevention of piracy of catch and personal belongings of the boats like GPS ,walking talkies, and spares of boat engines. 

by A.X Alexander

Our Bretheren at Sea

Last year when I was sitting in my drawing hall about twenty women accompanied by children and a cassocked priest, and two laymen came in three vans and came into the house and sat in a row. The visit was un announced and abrupt.There was none but me and my grand son at home, as all others  at home have gone out on their chores. 

They arranged themselves in neat rows and having veiled over their heads started praying, kneeling in front of the sacred heart picture with Incantations  and Lamentations that would pierce the roof of the heavens. I was stunned by the intensity of their piety and wondered whether they had mistaken my residence for a way side prayer hall. 

It soon dawned on me that I had seen a few of these women wildly bemoaning in the television the previous evening the arrest and incarceration of their relatives in the Middle East as they were implicated in an accidental fall and death of a local fisherman and arrested by the police and kept in prison with no relief at sight. The father who accompanied them also spoke in the channel and pleaded for the intervention of the Government to get them out of the prison shackles and restore them to their families. 

After their prayers, I asked them for the purpose of their visit to Me. The father explained that I must use my good office to bring to the notice of the government the sad plight of the ladies and their relatives in prison. I asked for details of these people. They were scarce details. They did not have photos of all in the prison. They did not know the stage of the case , the court where it is under trial,the name of the lawyer, if any if employed, availability of funds, if any, in case the court , acquitted the interned to get back to India. The information on  such questions were in bits and fragments, leaving me with the impression that ground work had not been  done, before they launched themselves into propaganda and publicity of their  plight.

During the discussion with the priest who accompanied, it has come to my knowledge, that most of these fishermen rush to Middle East not on Employment visa but on a Tourisvisa, and after the expiry of visa continue to stay illegally. I also got to know that these people do not go to these fishing companies throughreputed agencies but through hoax  agencies who fleece them of their finance even before they set sail, and continue to halve their income even when they slog in the mid sea. I also learnt from the father that there is no agency to certify whether they are embarking onto a reputed fishing company or not. It also came to my knowledge that fishermen who get employment orders through these agencies keep the information secret to themselves lest others should grab the opportunity and deprive them of their fortune, and thereby deny the chance to know about the credibility of employing company.

I did speak to the concerned in the Government on behalf of these people, and got to know the Government was already in the know of things and that the embassy in question was attending sincerely on the misery of these fishermen. What I found as the missing link was a trusted body in the Middle East as well as on our shores  of our own which could authentically inform families in India, guide the affected and lend legal support in the different countries in the Middle East and in India.

Thoughts on the predicament forces me to suggest the following.

1.The fishermen embarking to Middle East for  should not go there on improper visa.

  1. They should verify the credibility of the company before  they go.
  2. An organisation should be built up to check the visa, credibility of the company that employs, the past conduct of the company etc.inIndia.
  3. A training course on the geography, seascape, the boundaries of various nations, the types of vessels, customs and manners of Arabs , knowledge of local laws and rules, should be given by this organisation.
  4. Organisation to lend support for those in distress in the Mid East must be organised. Such organisations should be led by educated who could talk to lawyers, police, Indian embassy in the Middle East. etc. 
  5. People who report from India in the Arabian countries should register themselves in these organisations compulsorily.
  6. These organisations may  have to obtain the address, tele numbers and next of kin address both in India and in Middle East , keep them in register and render necessary help.

These thoughts were in my mind at the time when these beleaguered few visited my house, but once when Mdm, Jayalalitha got them out , I thought it ended once for all. But I saw a repetition of it reported in the newspaper yesterday  , this time in Qutar.

Hence this article , hoping some one would take this further and translate my suggestions to reality.

by A.X Alexander

Jayalalithaa & the fishermen community of Tamilnadu

I’d like to highlight some of the reforms and welfare schemes introduced by our late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for fisheries / fishermen in Tamilnadu.

Tamilnadu & Fisheries

Tamilnadu has the second highest GDP among all the states in India after Maharashtra. GSDP is Gross State Domestic Product which takes all revenue from Agriculture, Automobiles, Manufacturing, Services, Animal Husbandry and lot more that contributes to our state’s economy.

Fisheries contribute significantly to TN’s economy (nearly 1%). Though it cannot match other behemoths such as Services, Agriculture & Manufacturing this sector is one of the oldest and offers employment to nearly 10 lakh people in the state. Our coastal districts (Chennai, Nagapattinam, Ramanathapuram,Tuticorin & Kanyakumari) contributed heavily in the fishing sector.

Tamilnadu has a coastal length of 1076 km (13% of the country’s coast line) which is second in India after Gujarat.  With the present level of marine fish catch Tamilnadu ranks fourth at the all India level.

Let’s look at former Chief Minister Jayalalaithaa’s contribution towards fishing in Tamilnadu

Fishermen captured by SriLankan Navy

There has been a constant friction between the Sri Lankan navy and Indian fishermen. This still continues with Sri Lankan Navy capturing our fishermen on the case of moving into Sri Lankan waters. It’s still not clear if our fishermen literally cross Indian waters or Sri Lankan Navy is using brute force to scare fishermen to come closer to Katchatheevu. Anyways Katchatheevu is a political case and I’m not trying to focus this here.

Every time our fishermen get trapped in Sri Lankan jails our Chief Minister approaches the centre to secure their release. Increasing Coast Guards vigilance around these areas and movement of Navy boats to protect our fishermen are some of the measures taken.

Longline Tuna fishing is a scheme announced in 2014 which is designed to let fishermen move away from trawler fishing and move over to tuna longliner, thus keeping fishermen away and avoiding conflicts with the Sri Lankan navy.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa suggested that a move from bottom trawlers to deep sea tuna long liners would reduce the pressure on the practice of bottom-trawling in the Palk Bay region. Fishermen get subsidy of up to 50% from the State government to procure these boats and nets.

Longline Tuna fishing scheme

Longline fishing is a commercial fishing technique. It uses a long line called the main line, with baited hooks attached at intervals. A main line can have thousands of hooks and it can be thrown from a boat for a long distance and wait for the fish to come and get trapped. This helps fishermen not to venture too far into the seas thereby protecting them from being caught by Sri Lankan Navy.

Tuna (Soorai meen in Tamil) which is imported significantly adds to state’s revenue. Our age old “Maasi” is also prepared from Tuna.

Financial assistance during lean period of fishing

Every year during October to December fishermen abstain from fishing due to rough weather in the seas. Their daily wages hit badly due to this and they are unable to run their family. In 2011 Chief Minister Jayalalithaa announced a financial grant to all fishermen during this lean period.

In 2016 the amount has been increased to Rs. 5000 a family. This amount is directly credited to their bank accounts. Around 1.7 lakh families are benefitted by this scheme.
Surveillance boats for search operations

In 2016 Chief Minister Jayalalithaa dedicated three surveillance boats purchased by the fisheries department to do sorties and search for fishermen who go missing while fishing in the coastal waters of Tuticorin and Tirunelveli districts.

Subsidised Kerosene for boats

In 2012 government increased the quantity of subsidized Kerosene from 200 to 250 litres to all fishermen. Kerosene is generally used to propel motor boats used for fishing. The Government pays a subsidy of Rs. 25 per litre for country boats with external engines.

Release of Tamil fishermen trapped in Iran

In December 2015 44 fishermen from Ramanathapuram, Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari districts, working for a private fishing company in United Arab Emirates (UAE) as contract labourers were arrested by Iran Coast Guard on charges of illegal fishing in the Iranian waters.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa coordinated with officials of the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi and those in Iran and UAE to secure the release. Discussions with Narendra Modi (Prime Minister) and Sushma Swaraj (External Affairs Minister) helped pave a way for the fishermen’s release. In March 2016 all 44 fishermen safely returned to India and were sent to their natives at State Government’s expense.

Chief Minister also granted Rs. 5 lakhs to each of the fishermen from Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund. She said “The assistance would help these fishermen in starting a new life”.

Rescue of Kanyakumari fishermen stranded in Odisha

In October 2013 18 fishermen from Kanyakumari went missing around the Odisha coast. This was the time when cyclone Phailin stuck the Odisha coast. The fishermen were feared missing after their two mechanised boats ran out of fuel.

Under the orders of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Tamil Nadu officials got in touch with their Odisha counterparts for rescuing the fishermen. They remained in constant touch with National Disaster Response Force personnel and the Coast Guard.

The fishermen slowly landed in one of the coast which was badly hit by the cyclone. They approached the Odisha government for help who in turn informed the Tamilnadu government. The Odisha government handed over those 18 fishermen to the Tamilnadu government officials. They returned back to Kanyakumari safely and continued their profession in a safe manner.

Recruitment to police and other services.

The Governmentt has announced vacancies of
1. 4569 cons tables –men–grade 2 in Tamilnadu special Police
2.46  cons tables –women –grade 2 in Tamilnadu special Police
3.4627 cons tables –men –grade 2 –in Tamilnadu Armed forces and
4.3941 cons tables –women cons tables –in Tamilnadu Armed forces.

It has also announced vacancies. Of
1. Grade 2 jail wardens–men—976 in Tamilnadu jails
2. Grade 2  jail warmers –women –40–in Tamilnadu jails.

Further it has announced vacancies of
1.  1542 fire men in Tamilnadu Fire services.

AGE. — 18 yrs completed  and below 24 yrs.
Applications OMR , CAN BE OBTAINED FROM POST OFFICES.by paying 35 rupees.

Educational qualification
10th standard.

Applications should have a receipt for Rs 135 paid and obtained from post offices . This receipt should be pasted in the OMR application..

Method of selection.

Written exam.             80 marks.
Physical efficiency      15 marks.
NCC. , NSS   Games      5 marks.
Medical exam if you come successful in the exam.

Date of exam.  21- 5–2017.

Mode of applying . Those who have the age and educational qualification should get OMR application from post office by paying 35 rs , fill it up properly with necessary certificates, and get a receipt of rs 135 from post office and paste it on the application and send it to

TAMILNADU UNIFORMED SERVICES RECRUITMENT BOARD,
OLD COMMISSIONER OF POLICE CAMPUS,
PANTHEON ROAD,
EGMORE,
CHENNAI –600008.

Last date for application   22.  February. 2017.

If you have any doubt ,pl go to  www.tnusrb.in. gov. in

Those of you who read this , pl communicate this to our youngsters, and guide them to fill up the application, ask them to check up with their friends in police,get books for the examinations ,prepare themselves for physical efficiency  appear for the recruitment.there is no shortcut . Hard work is called for. It is necessary that the coastal youngsters get in to police, prison department, and fire service department.

Demonic effects of demonetization on our fishermen

Two months back the name “Demonetisation” sounded Greek & Latin to us. Now entire India is aware of this term, thanks to Central government’s decision on scrapping out 500 & 1000 rupees note. Nation saw a lot of debate and discussion around this issue. Why not, after all it was these 2 pieces of paper which decided everyone’s day to day life. With a population of 129 crores this decision was not like others affecting our daily lives.

Government considered themselves as God who can unleash the flood and save Noah and his family alone. Government should not be equated to God; they can’t impose restrictions on using our hard earned money. I’m not writing an article to highlight against demonetisation. My intention is to bring to your notice about our fishermen’s plight because of this demonetisation move across our coasts. Farmers, labourers, weavers, small time businessmen everyone had a big hit due to this move. Fishermen were not left behind in this issue as if their woes were not enough already.

We all crib about standing in lines outside ATM or banks to encash or exchange. Think about our Paravar fishermen whose livelihood depends on fishing on a daily basis. How would they procure diesel for their boats, what would they pay for daily wages? Even if they got a good catch who would buy their fish when the old 500 & 1000 rupees notes became invalid and the new currency is out of reach? Sea foods are perishable goods and they can’t wait until new currency is floated across the country. There needs to be a mechanism with which people can buy & sell these items. No politician or celebrity faced problems with food and they don’t seem to understand what was going through these fishermen.

Let’s look at some of the major problems faced by our fishermen along our coastline starting from Rameswaram till Kanyakumari:

  • Unable to purchase diesel for the boats. A typical case wherein fishermen are unable to get diesel for their boats because petrol bunks are not accepting old currencies.
  • Rameswaram amounts to 4 cr loss per day because fishermen are on strike. If fishermen do not venture out for fishing what will happen to their livelihood?
  • Inability to pay wages to the daily labourers assisting in fishing. Even if they could arrange for diesel, manpower is very limited because owners can’t pay them as they do not have the new currencies.
  • Ice blocks used to store huge amount of fishes are not being sold due to currency ban. If fishermen are unable to procure ice for storage then the big catch goes into drain. Horrible isn’t it?
  • Most fishermen do not have bank accounts. How does government want them to transact through banks?
  • New banknotes came to Nationalised and Private Banks not to the cooperative banks. Paravar villages have many cooperative banks wherein our fishermen hold accounts. Cooperative banks were not given the new currency notes, making it impossible for fishermen’s to acquire new currency.
  • Forget cash, use MasterCard or VISA. Our fishermen brothers from Rameswaram till Kanyakumari cannot use credit / debit cards because they don’t have one. Is the government kidding?
  • People in Chennai stood for long hours in ATM / banks despite having good internet connectivity and availability of credit / debit cards and mobile payment options. What about villages such as Alanthalai, Uvari etc. where there is no reach for these luxury items?
  • It took more than 2 weeks for the new 500 rupees note to reach Chennai. Just think of the situation in our coastal villages..
  • One of the worst situations is when our fishermen were paid with 2000 rupees for a catch of 500 rupees and they never had the balance to return because they did not have 100 rupees notes. The catch went in vain as the people were not ready to shell out money without getting the balance in change.

Nearly 40 years back a demonetisation happened in 1978 which was considered to be a failure. With population doubling today and 500 & 1000 Rs notes becoming 86% of floating cash in India, government has decided to play with the common man. Analysts say that it will take a long time for India to come out of this present crisis, not the 50 days during which government promises to change India.

Central / State government should take steps to address the plights of common man. Fishing acts as a major driver of Tamilnadu’s economy. Inability to address the currency ban issue immediately will mean that the state’s economy will take a big hit which in turn hits India’s economy.

God bless India !!

By Anton Niresh

St. Anthony of Padua

Puliampatti2St. Anthony of Padua also known as Anthony of Lisbon was a Portuguese Catholic priest of the Franciscan order. Born in 1195 to a wealthy family in Lisbon (Portugal) he dedicated his life to the service of the poor and downtrodden. He left all the wealth his family had and completely gave himself to Christ. He is known for his forceful preaching and expert knowledge of scriptures. His faith in Infant Jesus was so immense that Infant Jesus descended on St. Anthony’s hands. St. Anthony performed several miracles during his lifetime helping many in need. He died on 13 June 1231 in Padua (Italy) at a very young age. 13th June is celebrated as St. Anthony’s feast across the world.

Though born in Lisbon, Portugal his priesthood life was spent in Padua, Italy. Owing to this reason his nativity is referred to Padua rather than Lisbon. He was one of the most quickly canonized saints in Catholic history. Vatican has proclaimed St. Anthony as the “Doctor of the Church”. He is also the patron saint of finding things or lost people.

One of the most revered saints in Tamilnadu is “St. Anthony of Padua”. We can come across several churches dedicated to St. Anthony who is believed to hear our prayers and bless us. St. Anthony’s churches in Broadway & Pudupet (both in Chennai), Kamuthy, Uvari, Puliampatti are some of the prominent ones in Tamilnadu. No wonder many Catholics in this state are named after St. Anthony (Anthony, Antony, Anton, Anto etc.).

Puliampatti1St. Anthony’s influence on Paravars
Paravars across Muthukulithurai have great reverence for Saint Anthony. Most of the Paravar villages have a church dedicated to St. Anthony. Alexander Sir has many times written about the famous St. Anthony’s church in Kamuthy. The feast of St. Anthony in Kamuthy is celebrated by people of all religion with much fanfare.

In Uvari the church of St. Anthony is home to an ancient wooden statue. Legend says that the crew of a Portuguese ship which sailed near Uvari about 450 years ago contracted cholera. The ship’s carpenter carved an image of St. Anthony from a block of wood and prayed for help. Everyone in the ship was immediately healed and the entire crew regained its health. When the ship docked at Uvari, the sailors placed the statue inside a hut in the village. The church in Uvari was upgraded to a Shrine. St Anthony is said to perform many miracles daily, and this church is visited by pilgrims from all over southern Tamilnadu.

St. Anthony’s church, Puliampatti
Let’s look at one of the famous churches of St. Anthony in Puliampatti (Tuticorin District). Located at a distance of around 23 kms from Palayamkottai and 45 kms from Tuticorin, this church falls under the Palayamkottai Diocese. St. Anthony’s Shrine is the earliest shrine in the Diocese of Palayamkottai.

The history of the shrine starts with a miracle done in mid 17th century by St. Anthony to a local man named Thommai. He was a devout catholic and used to visit another village called “Santhai Pettai” where a small church had been built in honour of St. Francis Xavier. This church is located in the place where St. Francis Xavier is believed to have stayed for a while during his travel in the Muthukulithurai region. We have previously seen how St. Francis Xavier had travelled from Kanyakumari to Vembar covering all coastal villages.

Thommai had 12 sons and 1 daughter, unfortunately all his eleven sons died one after another at a very young age. The last son survived along with the daughter. The girl grew up and she got married but her husband died within 15 days of their marriage. Thommai’s only son was attacked with measles and he felt very sad thinking about his family. One day St. Anthony made an appearance to Thommai and asked him to build a church. Immediately Thommai put all his efforts to build this church in honour of St. Anthony. At the same time he saw his son recovering from the deadly measles.

Being a poor man Thommai could not raise enough money to build a church. Again St. Anthony appeared before Thommai and asked him to approach the landlord of Maniachi (current town of Maniachi). When Thommai met the landlord, the landlord said that he too had a dream wherein he was instructed to donate land to build a church. Acquiring the land at Puliampatti, Thommai started the construction work of the church. He brought the beautiful wooden statue of St. Anthony from Santhai Pettai (Francis Xavier’s church) and placed it in the new church. Though the church was very small in size roofed with hay, miracles started happening to all who came to pray to St. Anthony.

Today people irrespective of caste, creed and religion flock to this church of St. Anthony at Puliampatti. On the 15th of February 1954, Puliampatti was created as a new Parish with Rev. Fr. A. Mariadoss as its first parish priest. By his earnest effort the small shrine was elevated to a bigger one and reopened by the then Arch Bishop J. P. Leonard SJ on the 13th June, 1961.

Many miracles take place in this church at Puliampatti. People possessed by evil spirits are taken to this church so that they are healed. Many diseases are cured and lost items are recovered after visiting this church.

St. Anthony’s church at Puliampatti, unlike the churches started by St. Francis Xavier develops its roots to Santhai Pettai where St. Francis Xavier came. Paravars from Tuticorin and many other villages visit this holy shrine frequently. Transportation facility is not quite good but buses run from Tuticorin at fixed timings. Please do visit this church and get the blessings of St. Anthony.

By Anton Niresh

KAMUTHY CHURCH of ST. ANTONY

dddOn 24th October 2015 the church dedicated to st. ANTONY OF PADUA at Kamuthy was consecrated after renovation at an impressive cost, contributed by not only parishoners but also by others—-friendly Hindus,and Moslems .

The blessong was done by His Grace the Bishop of Sivagangai.Most . Rev. SOOSAIMANICKAM.

Nearly 20 priests of the Diocese  and a Jesuit priest Fr. Leonard, former Principal of St. Josephs college Trichy.and a native of the parish were assisting the Bishop in the ceremonies.

There was a very solemn Mass attended by churchful congregation.
Their choral response during mass evoked piety and reverence in the hearts of all. The choir with instrumental accompaniment,of professionals was a delight to ears and souls.
The sermon by His Grace was to the point.
“”Renovation of churches should aid to renovate our faith . It is a symbol of revival and a catalyst for re energising  our spiritual life.””

The alter made in Teak  of fine quality lent admirable beauty to the church.  The  old and beautiful statues of  Mother  Mary  and  of St.Joseph  were examplary pieces in beauty and serenity. It is very rare to see  such beautiful faces in the statutes in churches these days.
What about  dismantlable statue of  Our Lord in Cross.?
The   face of the old statue   of Jesus in agony done up now  expresses  the  pain he undergoes  and the  trust  he reposes in His Father.

The new Tabernacle with brass front of  radiating rays, fish, amd heart fitted exactly in the backstage  of alter..

The Monstrance  of  nearly three and a half feet height ,while placed in the alter  suited exactly the church.

The real Master Piece  in art work was the  photographically embedding of  the picture of St.ANTONy on a piece of white marble with LED lights to glow it from behind. . This has been placed in the alcove in the front  portion at the root of the spire of the church. This strikes your eyes and inspires adoration to st. Antony.

The choir of the day was   very pleasing to the ears.

A small booklet on ” Kamuthy Pangou”written by Alexander was distributed  to the Bishop, priests  nuns and congregation.The book traced the history of the church, its past parish priests, customs and manners of Kamuthy christians, and contained  a collection of prayers and pamalais in use in  Kamuthy. A  brief introduction to the contents of the book was given by  Alexander.. He placed the church to be in existence from   circa1750..

Jubilation  combined with piety permeated the atmosphere.

By A.X Alexander.

FR. SARTORIO – ON THE HORSE BACK

Readers may kindly refer to my three notes on Kamuthy and its hallowed church dedicated to St. Antony of Padua.

Here is some thing more. But   this is not on the church itself but on one of the early Jesuits — FR. SATORIO who came to Kamuthy and breathed his last afflicted by the dreaded cholera.  His grave is located in the south east corner of the church with an Indian version of grave with a canopy and an epitaph spelling out the year of death as 1852.

Folk lore is abounding on this priest’s concern for the villagers; and elders time and again have spoken that he was still on horse back and trotting in the streets of Kamuthy in the dead of the nights protecting them from the onslaughts of bad spirits, plague, famine etc. Candles are lit in scores and blessed oil is kept for smearing in the canopy to ward off evils.

To  express their gratitude ,the grateful Bharatha devotees , every year ,conduct asanam in the vicinity of the church itself on the day following the festival of St. Antony which  usually falls  on  13 th june.

The asanam is attended not only by the Bharathas   but also by different communities in Kamuthy, signifying the close relationship the community maintains with others in Kamuthy and illustrating the reverence for the Father.

The provocation for this article, stems from my recent re- reading a book on THE JESUITS IN INDIA BY W. STRICKLAND 1850, a British Jesuit.   He portrays the perilous times for the Jesuits of later 17 th century and early 18 th century  and lists out quite a few who fell a victim to Cholera in Madura mission. The heroism of these fallen heroes is so touching, that I wish everyone reads this slender volume reprinted by Asian educational services in 2001.costing   rs 461.

The first to die in cholera was Fr. Fidelis Alexander Martin who when he saw the faithful crying around him when he was sick said ‘’ I did not come to this country to live in it for ever ‘’

Fr. De Bournet who had been in the country and who had been placed under Fr Martin survived him scarcely twenty days after.  The flock felt they had lost a guide in their path to eternity.

The third was Father Alexander de Sardos , who when implored to take care of his health replied that he did not fear death. He kept his soul ready to go before GOD   and passed into eternity on 2nd February 1841.

The fourth was Fr. F. Charingnon who sank in the alter  and died on 21 February 1841.

These were succeeded in deaths by cholera by Frs F.  Garnier,superior of the mission , Peter Faurie. Claude de Champes, Louis du Ranquet, Francis Perrin, Louis Berlandis.

For some time there was a lull. But in July 1846 cholera again struck and Fr. St Ferriol, Fr. O Kenny, Fr. Audibert, Fr. F. Barret.were lost.

In 1849 Fr. Ponsdiver fell a victim.

1850 cholera again claimed a victim and this time it was a young priest not ordained a year. FR.Sartorio was a savoyard by birth and had proceeded to India before his novice- ship ended. He was one of the first priests ordained by the present bishop Dr. Canoz and was much loved by his companion.  He had just begun his labour among the natives, when he was sent to a village where violent dispute was raging, to endeavour to reconcile the adversaries. He was making some progress in this good work when he was seized with cholera, which was ravaging the village, and after a short illness died.’’

The village that had a raging conflict was Kamuthy  .  The death year mentioned in the epitaph slab is 1852. But Father Strickland would state that he died in 1850. Fr.Strickland published the book in 1852.

I feel there might be an error in the year mentioned in the slab.

What ever be the year of death of FR . Sartorio, in the psyche of Kamuthy Bharathas, he lives trotting his horse in the dead of nights chasing out evil spirits, demons, plague, pestilence and famine.

By A X Alexander