The Tamilians call her Annai Vailankanni...;
annai in Tamil means mother... Mother Vailankanni, Our Lady of Health is also called 'Lourdes of the East'.
Vailankanni is the Indian Christian world's
On a tree, childless couples tie numerous small
cradles - - a way of beseeching our beloved mother for a child. This practice is followed in many Hindu temples. Says Muthuswamy,
"It is the Indianisation of Christianity. Though the religion came from the West, we remain Indians..."
Nearby is a 'Tonsure Hall' where pilgrims shave
their heads. Up ahead is the Museum of Offerings that sells blessed oil. The museum had innumerable letters of thanks,
lovely articles in silver and gold to mother for blessings received; many of them for stolen jewellery which Our Lady helped
People had donated replicas of eyes, hands,
legs, stethoscopes and hearts made of silver and gold depending on the ailment she had cured... Everything is framed and exhibited
Some had donated miniature gold or silver cars,
cows, crosses. Some had even donated mangalsutras... One person had made a replica of the shrine with coins...
On a shelf are pieces of wood which had floated
to Vailankanni from all over the world. The wood was hollow. People sent messages and offerings to the mother in these pieces
Legend says that the messages always reach the
shores of Vailankanni. Even coconuts with distinguishing features are preserved in the museum. They are said to be offerings
from Fiji that had come across the ocean.
Countless miracles and cures are attributed
to offerings. A few too many to relate here. I heard about a 45-year-old woman who has given a testimony for our Lady, for
the child she had conceived at that late age.
A young man named Raja had come from Bombay to pay obeisance to the Mother because his brother had a child eight years
after marriage. A retired Hindu school teacher related at length his experience at Vailankanni. Murugesan worked in a Christian
school. Father Francis, who worked in his school, took him to Vailankanni, when he grumbled to the father that he had four
daughters and deeply desired a son.
The following year he got a son. In memory of
the Matha (mother in Tamil), he named his son Mathavan. Thrice he took his son to the church and shaved his head there in
Photography is prohibited inside the church.
Murugesan clicked a photograph of the altar. When he printed the photographs: 35 out of the 36 shots were fine but "The photograph
of the altar was only white smoke"...
During Onam one can see lot of Keralites. During
Dassera one can bump into plenty of folks from Karnataka. And during the annual festival a lot of Bombayites & Goan people
Foreign tourists are frequent visitors too...
Some come with worries. Some with illness. Some to say thanks. But they all come back from the pilgrimage with an identical
look of peace, serenity and satisfaction...
Christian life is a long pilgrimage to the house
In a world of deadly diseases & sicknesses,
pay respects to the Mother at your earliest opportunity for her intercession with Christ in giving you a healthy
mind & body, and keeping you innocent of all evil...
8th September, 2002
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