Thousands flock to Walsingham for annual Tamil pilgrimage

Tamils celebrating Mass in the grounds of the Chapel of Reconciliation, Walsingham ANL-150713-103610001

Tamils celebrating Mass in the grounds of the Chapel of Reconciliation, Walsingham ANL-150713-103610001

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It was estimated that more than 11,000 Tamil pilgrims took part in their second pilgrimage to Walsingham this year at the weekend.

Police said that half that number had already entered the Shrine grounds by midday.

Tamils bedecked the statue of Mary and Jesus in the Slipper Chapel with garlands of flowers ANL-150713-103621001

Tamils bedecked the statue of Mary and Jesus in the Slipper Chapel with garlands of flowers ANL-150713-103621001

It was known as Tamil Two Pilgrimage and the popularity of the event kept police on their toes as they marshalled much heavier than usual traffic around the village, warning of possible hold-ups from Fakenham to Wells.

Tamils came from all over the country, although the majority were from London and the thousands of voices raised in song at mass were mostly Tamil, though there were a few who also spoke Singhalese.

There are many Tamils in India but these pilgrims originate from Sri Lanka and most are Catholic, though some are Hindus who revere Christ’s mother, Mary.

It was a colourful occasion and spirits were not dampened by the occasional flurry of rain.

Pilgrims light candles ANL-150713-103632001

Pilgrims light candles ANL-150713-103632001

It was very much a family event with pilgrims picnicking in the fields surrounding the Chapel of Reconciliation, both before and after mass.

Younger Tamils wait for Mass to begin at the Chapel of Reconciliation ANL-150713-103643001

Younger Tamils wait for Mass to begin at the Chapel of Reconciliation ANL-150713-103643001