Medical camps for pilgrims | Sunday Observer

Medical camps for pilgrims

Not many see the hard work that’s put into keeping the pilgrims of the significant walk through the most treacherous jungles of Yala, safe. The KataragamaPaada Yathra which commenced in June concluded on July 12 with no mishaps.

Director of Health Services, Eastern Province, Dr. A. Lathaharan has conducted medical camps for the pilgrims for the past six years.“This year we decided to provide health service camps at Linthuna and Navaladi in the middle of the forest, where there is no access to medical services in this very spiritual place,” he said.

“During Paada Yathra2014 it was a big challenge because the Wildlife Department did’nt permit us to carry out 24 hour services.We received help from the OIC Gonahamgara Police, Nandana and were introduced to the CEO of SR 14, Cornel Luxman who requested us to join the Army and conduct the camps. We served almost 7000 pilgrims by providing herbal tea. A planter from Maskeliya, Balendran along with his workers from the estate and a lawyer from Kadawatha, Mallawarachchi, and other pilgrims contributed”.

A total of 70 doctors from the Eastern Province and other parts of the country, mainly GMOA members, provided financial assistance and volunteered their services.

The Provincial Health Ministry, Governor’s Office of the Eastern Province and the Ministry of Health also extended their support.

Restoring the site

Sleeping and living under trees, in shrines and temples; seldom knowing from where their next meal will come, braving death from animal attacks and worse; these are the factors of Paada Yaathrathat make it such an intense spiritual opportunity for those who receive the ‘call’.

The traditional foot pilgrimage from Jaffna to Kataragama not only serves to raise public awareness of the traditions linking North and South, but also helps to break down barriers dividing communities long separated by decades of conflict.

The multi cultural nature of the Kataragama region enables Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Christians and those of any other religion to practice their faith in the safety of a sacred area. Pilgrims are served by the medical camps. The selfless contribution of these doctors is awe inspiring. Not only do they keep vigil and treat the devotees, they find it in their hearts to clean after them too.

As the dawn of a new day starts the pilgrims pack their belongings and start their arduous journey through rough and deserted terrain. The volunteer doctors stay behind to clear the place before they leave to the next destination. In dire need of medical aids, they even use their car battery to power up a nebulizer to save an asthmatic soul.