The jungle church was once again filled with devotees camping out for days to take part in the feast of the Virgin Mary of Madhu. It had been over 27 years since the last occasion when tens of thousands of believers streamed into the church located at Madhu, in the north-western Mannar District, about 300 km from the capital Colombo.
In 1982 the jungle shrine was caught in the crossfire between government forces and the Tamil separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), preventing devotees, especially from the south, from travelling there. The war ended in May, when government forces wiped out the Tigers, who had been fighting for a separate state for ethnic Tamils since the 1970s.
On August 15, over half a million gathered at the church to celebrate the feast, the first in over a quarter century, or since peace was achieved.
20 August 2009
SRI LANKA: Religious Feast Embodies a Nation’s Hopes for Peace - IPS ipsnews.net: