Walking With Hopes

*As published on The New Indian Express-City Express(of course after editing :D)

Walking With Hopes
by S Deepak Karthik

Nagapattinam: For the health conscious people walking is one of the easiest approaches for staying fit as fiddle and for the folks residing at remote locations where wheels cannot tread, walking is the only way to begin their day in, day out routines as they have no other go. And there are people who walk all the way leaving their homes and luxuries but with hopes and prayers for the god to make their wishes come true. As the ten day long annual festival at Velankanni shrine basilica kick starts, the tiny town on located at the coast of bay of Bengal witnesses pilgrims more than in lakhs walking all the way from their homes from different parts of the state but to a common destination with a common belief of making their prayers come alive. Besides, as the town witnesses pilgrims en masse, the roadside shop keepers and eateries makes brisk business in the ten day span.

The pilgrims mostly in clusters and in a common saffron outfit make the deserted roads busier not with their vehicles but with their foot. People from all walks of life and from all ages including toddlers to senior citizens scale hundreds of kilometers. “I am running a travels agency and I have four cars with my firm of which all of them are air conditioned. However, when it comes for the question of offering prayers to god, I don’t wish to carry the luxuries with me for making my wishes come true.” Says Soundar, a businessman from Arakonam. There are pilgrims from across all the locations of the state including Chennai, Madurai, Kanyakumari and Karur and few from other states including Karnataka and West Bengal. However, the pilgrims from other states travel through roadways or railways to the state capital before beginning their march to Velankanni. Though people walk for their wishes to come true, there are also pilgrims who walk to the shrine as thanksgiving moment. “Last year I prayed for spreading my business to other towns as it had happened as I wished. I am walking this year to devote my thanks to Arockiyamary by tonsuring as my thanks.” Soundar added.

Wishes are many, varying from finding a job with handsome salary to graduate without any backlogs were found by and large from a group of young walkers in their 20’s. If backlogs are the concern for the guys, girls had their own wishes including finding a better half. For Gnanaselvi a B. Com graduate walking along with her family to Velankanni is a prayer for finding a good groom for her life. “As my family is keen on my hosting my marriage, I have my own prayers to offer god for finding me a good groom. I am joined by my family and we will repeat this in case if our wishes are answered.” Gnanaselvi added. The pilgrims would take a pit stop to spend their night under trees shades or with the vacant bus stops for a deep sleep. Besides, as the river Cauvery has not failed to flow this year, Pilgrims are at ease to complete their daily activities with the help of river beds.

Everyday approximately ten thousand pilgrims are arriving on heir foot and since most of the pilgrims are arriving at groups and hailing from middle class background, roadside eateries caters all their hunger at cheapest price. Seizing the opportunity, road side shops have doubled their per day sales by preparing foods considering the piling pilgrims. “In last three days we have completed a whooping profit for ` 20,000. This season is the only chance for us to make brisk business, we do offer discounts and freebies for the pilgrims to show our thanks.” Said Parthasarathy, manager at a bakery. Since the walkers would rest at the times of soaring weather, roadside juice shops have also sprouted here and there. “By considering the inflow of pilgrims, I have started another juice shop little far away from mine and have employed my brother in law for reaping the best out of the season. As we are providing economical foods, we are often preferred.” Says Raja mani, a juice vendor. As the pilgrims walks for a cause in a motive to make their wishes come true, in turn they also indirectly help the local vendors wishes by contributing handsome revenue for their business.



  1. Such places are a beautiful sight during the celebration and festive season. Devotion of followers is unparalleled in our country.

  2. @Saru Singhal true that :) being a non believer, i find their prayers so strong and commendable !

  3. Very nicely written - an intimate and close look at life.

  4. We should have belief , either self belief or belief on something else, like super natural power. The belief is the one which helps to walk the journey of life with confidence.
    Good post. I had heard about this place, but never knew so many people visit this place.


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