The essence of every religion is belief and faith. The principles of every religion can be comprehended as much by children as by elder people. Festal celebrations enable the faithful to understand the doctrines and principles of the religions. With this idea is mind, the first feast was celebrated in 1981 on 8th September in minor scale. The Eucharistic celebration was officiated by Rt. Rev. Joseph Thumma, Bishop of Vijayawada. In 1982, after a great discussion, the authorities named the place NIRMALAGIRI(Nirmala means ‘spotless’ and ‘Immaculate’) and fixed 23, 24, 25th March as the annual festival days of the shrine. In the same year, the existing presbytery was blessed by Rt. Rev. Bishop John Mulagada, the Bishop of Eluru. The shrines are the “Crowd-pulling” centers. Thousands of pilgrims, irrespective of caste and religion, search for God in this shrine and pray and receive many blessings from God and enjoy peace and joy. With this background in 1998 the Bishop after consulting the directors and the counselors extended 22, 23, 24, 25 as the annual FESTIVAL DAYS of the shrine.

The actual feast of the shrine begins on the 16th of March. The shrine director hoists the flag at 6.30 P.m and declares the festal day celebrations. The following five days of the Novena prayers are assigned to the neighbouring parishes: Annadevarapeta, Kovvuru, Pangidi, Ramannapalem, Vellachintalagudem and Yernagudem.


During these days, the respective parish priests come along with their faithful and offer prayers and celebrate Holy Eucharist. The last four days of the feast is meant for the pilgrims who come from far and wide. All these days the gathering of the pilgrims would be around five to six lakh(6,00,000). The feast ends on the 26th of March in the morning with the thanksgiving Eucharistic celebration followed by the lowering of the sacred flag by the shrine director.

Hundreds of the shops are set up for the pilgrims from the various parts of Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu.  Shops for the religious articles and fancy goods are put up.  There are also shops available for the refreshment.  Huge Exhibition with Jaint Wheel, Motor cycling in the well and many more attractions gives the entertainment to the pilgrims.

Fresh Mineral water and soft drinks and beverages are available in the shops during the festival days.

   

                                                        FESTIVAL DAYS

FESTIVAL CELEBRATION DETAILS:

FACILITIES THAT NIRMALAGIRI PROVIDES FOR THE PILGRIMS:

Every pilgrim expects certain indispensable facilities in a pilgrimage center they are: security, transportation, Medical Aid, Electricity, water and sanitation. All these above mentioned needs are taken care of by the concerned departments of the Government and met by the festal committee members.

PROGRAMME DETAILS:

(i) Mass Celebrations: Every pilgrim wants to enjoy the good things of life. A pilgrim goes for a pilgrimage in search of piety. By participating in the Eucharistic celebration one earns merit and seeks for self - purification. So much so, this kind of faith uplifts the soul. With this intention the Eucharistic celebrations are arranged at regular intervals. At the final day of the feast, the Eucharistic celebration is officiated by Bishops along with many priests. During the Eucharistic celebrations, the Bishops and the priests, instruct the pilgrims to be faithful to their vocation, to lead a life that is pleasing to God and to love ones neighbor unconditionally.

          
(ii) Charismatic prayer services: Every ones life is based on disciplinary resolutions. When a person is caught up between the devil and the deep sea, one pleads for the help of God. So many pilgrims come with different problems, since pilgrimage is a place where man meets God and seeks solutions for his/her problems. To facilitate the pilgrims to have solutions for their problems, the Charismatic prayer services are being conducted in the shrine church for three full days. The outcome of these charismatic prayer services are that many pilgrims witness the cure of their ailments, taking firm resolutions to be more holy, resolved to lead a very good family life and sincerely repenting for their sins. In these days many priests are set a part to hear the confessions of the faithful.


Stage

(iii) Cultural programs: Culture plays a very dominant role in shaping personality of a person. Culture is none other than the removal of ‘roughness’ and ‘toughness’ from the nature. Every society exhibits its culture in the form of art, dance and music. Art is the portrayal of one’s mind; dance is the perfect bending of one’s body and music is the perfect blending of one’s voice. The students belonging to nearby institutions and schools are given chance to exhibit their talents in the form of dance and music. The pilgrims are immersed deeply in these cultural evenings and forget themselves for a while.

(iv). Biblical stories Enactment (Dramas): The Biblical stories or Dramas are acted by famous stage experts from Andhra Pradesh. The Biblical themes are enacted always. These stage plays indicate certain realities which are very relevant to Christian life. These are filled with ethical meanings and bring out the indispensable Gospel values: prevailing over the mighty enemy (David and Goliath: I Sam Ch:17), asking strength from God to destroy God’s enemies (Samson and Delilah Judges Ch:16) God answers the poor men’s plea (The Rich Man and Lazarus: Lk Ch: 16:19-31), standing for social Justice (Beheading of John the Baptist: Mk Ch 6:14-29; Mt Ch; 14:1-12) The compassionate God (The parable of the prodigal and His Brother. Lk Ch 15:11-32), the suffering, death and Resurrection of Son of God (Passion of Christ based on the four Gospels). The crowning of sincere servant (life of Joseph O.T Gen Chs:37-50), the suffering and crowning of the great Missionary (Life of St. Paul based on Acts Chs: 9-28) and the life of St. Thomas, the Apostle of Indies.


TIRUNALLA (HOLY DAY)

The word Tirunalla means Holy Day. It comes from the Dravidian Language. In South India the people call the Festival Days of the Shrine as Tirunall. It is a Holy and enjoyable day for them. On these days the pilgrims expect special blessings and grace from ABOVE.

 
 

 

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