Cyclone Ockhi: It’s a gloomy Christmas in eight coastal villages of Tamil Nadu

Eight fishermen villages have decided not to follow the decade-old tradition of bathing in the sea on Christmas morning, out of respect for the families of the missing fishermen and the fishermen who

Published: 24th December 2017 02:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th December 2017 07:59 AM   |  A+A-

Image used for representational purpose only

Express News Service

NAGERCOIL: Eight fishermen villages have decided not to follow the decade-old tradition of bathing in the sea on Christmas morning, out of respect for the families of the missing fishermen and the fishermen who lost their lives in Cyclone Ockhi in Kanyakumari district.Every year, Christmas festival is celebrated by youngsters and adults with a mass celebration on the coastal villages in Kanniyakumari district.

The villages follow their own tradition. The excitement begins before December, when the villagers put up stars and other decorations. The real bash begin on December 17, a week before Christmas. Carols are sung in every street in the villages and the fisher folks have dance, music and other programmes every day during the week leading to Christmas

During this period, the deep sea fishermen usually reach the shores with the fishes caught especially for the festival. On the day of Christmas, the fishermen of eight villages including Neerodi, Chinnathurai, Poothurai, Eraviputhanthurai, Marathandathurai, Vallavilai, Eramanthurai, and Thoothur take a bath in the sea.This year, the villagers have decided to suspend all the activities that mark celebration and joy, thanks to the devastating Cyclone Ockhi in the villages.

Speaking to Express, Judes, a 35-year-old fisherman of Chinnathurai, whose family lost four fishermen to the cyclone, said, “Every year, the celebration and happiness of the villages are visible at every corner in our village. This time, the pain and the suffering that we have experienced is still fresh and heavy. We are not even aware that Christmas is at our door. We will not be celebrating the festival this year as a sign of mourning for our lost and dead brothers.”A 24 year-old resident of Vallavilai added, “Ever since I can remember, we have been taking a bath in the sea to celebrate Christmas. This tradition has been followed for years. It must have started long before I was born.”

He added: “This year, of course, there will no celebration. Even the families whose members have returned or whose members did not go to the sea will be in mourning.” Father M Aristotle of Eraviputhenthurai said, “Usually, during Christmas time, marriages and other celebrations are also held in the coastal villages. This year, every function has been cancelled. All the celebrations, happiness and joy has been drained out by the cyclone and its after effects. All the villages are connected. Many villagers will not be celebrating like the previous year.” Archbishop Soosaibakiam said that only services will be held on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, that too in a very subdued manner.Father Aristotle added that every village in the coast will be conducting funeral mass except on Sunday and Monday. So far, Chinnathurai and Thoothur have held the funeral mass in the district. Other villages will continue after Christmas to pay respect to the missing fishermen in Kanniyakumari.

DNA test on five bodies

DNA tests performed on the bodies of five fishermen at government hospitals in Kerala revealed that they belonged to missing seafarers from Kanniyakumari. The bodies would soon be handed over to their relatives, said Collector Sajjansingh R Chavan on Saturday.Collector Chavan said, “Many bodies of fishermen were kept in mortuaries at the government hospitals in Kanniyakumari. Recently, Anthonydhasan’s body, a fishermen from Manakudy was identified. Now, bodies of five more persons have been identified.”

The bodies were identified to be of Cleetus (53) from Thoothur and Michael Amin of Manakudy at Thiruvananthapuram Government Medical College Hospital; Justin Babu of Colachel and Eruthayadhasan of Thoothur in Veppur Hospital; and Alexander of Neerodi’s at Cochin hospital.
Chinnathurai village organised a funeral mass for 64 missing fishermen, who left Chinnathurai before Cyclone Ockhi, at Chinnathurai church on Saturday. Families of the missing has also taken part in the mass.

Funeral mass

Every village in the coast will be conducting funeral mass except on Sunday and Monday. So far, Chinnathurai and Thoothur have held the funeral mass. Other villages will continue after Christmas to pay respect to the missing

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