CANACONA: Reiterating demand to allow catholics to celebrate their traditional and annual feasts at country’s (outside Kerala) first Church at Anjediva Island, devotees pleaded for government intervention to permit celebration of feast of Our Lady of Brotas (OL Springs) on 2nd February.
Addressing media at Chaudi, a group of concerned devotees stated by denying permission to celebrate the dual feasts at Anjediva Island (the other feast being of St. Francis de Assisi on October 4) government is denying the faithfuls to exercise their faith which they have been practicing for ages and stopped by Navy(Defence) having Seabird project in Karnataka seawaters citing security concerns since 2014. ‘It is a direct infringement on all of our beliefs and faith. Our ancestral families who have been celebrating this feast at Anjediva Island have received several divine blessings, which our fore-fathers have picked and passed onto us. But we are stopped by the government from practicing our Faith at the ancient and the first Church in the country (Outside Kerala State)’, stated Abel Barretto.(one of the concerned devotees following up the issue along with a few other concerned devotees (mostly senior citizens).
Speaking further, Barreto informed the Defence (Navy) authorities while taking possession of the Island from Goa government on intimated of the existence of two churches on the island has then given commitment/ assuring to allow the devotees to celebrate two annual feasts traditionally celebrated on 2nd Feb and 4th October every year, but went back on their word and stopped devotees since 2014 from proceeding to the island citing security concerns. ‘If security is really an issue, We had provided them several options such as allowing only a few of us including the priest to celebrate the feast on the island, , or ask navy personnel to accompany us to the island, amongst a few more options, but so far Navy is not heeding to any of our requests, and have simply kept us in the lurch till now by not allowing us to practice our ‘Faith’’.
The island is 3,38,375 sqm with 3 survey numbers (1/0, 2/0, 3/0) of revenue village of Loliem-Polem village and according to our information, just before 7-8 years back one of the occupant on form-1&14 on these survey numbers is Archdiocese of Goa (i.e the property belongs to the church). Now, the Anjediva village is separated from Loliem village and survey no.1/0 occupant is shown as Government of India, Defence Ministry and India Navy. This has perhaps happened in the last few years. The name of the church (or Archdiocese of Goa) is removed.’
Our Octogenarian Natividade De Sa, who has been single handedly following this issue from last few years have written to president, prime minister, Defence Minister, Chief Ministers and Chief Secretaries of Goa and Karnataka and he even got good responses from everyone, but assurances are coming forth from any of these constitutional heads to allow celebrations of either or both of these feast denied by the Navy(Sea Bird). The Navy’s only excuse if , they fear a security breach’ if feasts are allowed to be celebrated on the island, and even for that De Sa has given various suggestions, but none is heeded so far. Allow 5 of us, or even two of us annually on these two days and allow us to light at least candles in these places of worship, which incidentally ASI has in recent years have renovated by expending lakhs of rupees. What’s the use if devotees are not allowed to practice their ‘Faith’?.
“We are hereby giving another option to the navy to construct a Canopy, the way a Canopy is made to the Gurdwara on India-Pak border, where devotees can go and come at any time without security concerns whatsoever.’
‘Now, again we are reiterating our request to allow us to celebrate the Feast of OL of Brotas (OL Springs) Church on 2nd February, and if for any security reasons 200-400 people cannot be allowed, allow even 5 or 10 persons with strict follow of defence guidelines inside the church and permit to light some candles, do our prayers after a gap of 20 years. This is our wish and faith which we request the government authorities to grant us.