Karkala: The annual feast of St Lawrence shrine at Attur, concluded on Thursday January 28. It attracted more than 12 lakh devotees, breaking the barriers of faith.
Food packets and alms were distributed to the destitute at the Shrine on January 29, after five days of the annual feast of the ‘Saint of Miracles’. The alms giving tradition at the shrine has been going on from the last Sixteen years.
Prior to this practice, the destitute and beggars used to have a free run during the annual feast at Attur due to which most of the pilgrims had to face inconvenience and harassment from them for alms. Later, in line with the government policy of discouraging begging in public places and to avoid inconvenience to the pilgrims, the Shrine Committee with the help of the police decided to put an end to begging during the annual feast at Attur.
Instead, the pilgrims were asked to deposit their alms meant for the destitute in separate boxes kept for the purpose. The alms collected in those boxes were distributed to the destitute after the end of the five days of the annual feast along with packets of cooked food.
The alms were distributed under the presence of Fr George D’Souza director of the shrine, Fr Vijay D’Souza Assistant parish priest and John D’Silva PRO. The beggars were divided into three categories depending on their problems and state of their physical health. Around 2000 destitutes received alms totalling Rs 10.84 lakh.
The distribution of alms and food packets to the destitutes could be considered as the final act of the annual feast of St Lawrence at the shrine at Attur-Karkala.
Lucas D’Souza, one of devotee who had come from Sasthan to the shrine on Friday also distributed snacks and alms to the destitute on the occasion.
According to the life history of St Lawrence, the emperor of Rome had demanded that St Lawrence turn over the riches of the Church. Saint Ambrose is the earliest source for the tale of St Lawrence which says that he had requested three days time to gather all the wealth. St Lawrence worked swiftly to distribute as much Church property to the poor as possible, so as to prevent it from being seized. On the third day, as the head of a small delegation, he presented himself to the emperor and when the king ordered to give the treasure of the Church he presented the poor, the crippled, the blind and the suffering and said these were the true treasures of the Church. The emperor was so angry that he announced the death sentence to St Lawrence. As a remembrance of this event every year, alms are being distributed to the beggars and destitutes at St Lawrence Shrine Attur.