St. Lawrence Church in Attur, Karkala, is one religious place that is patronised by people from different religions. A pointer to its broad appeal is its name ‘Karlada Devir’ in Tulu (god of Karkala) in local parlance, Fr. Vijay, Director, Sandesha, told The Hindu.

“It is not a Christian place of worship, it is for everyone,” he said. Many people from across religions have spiritually benefitted from the shrine. Special prayers are held at the church every Thursday (called novena) and they are attended by thousands of people from various faiths, he said.

Giving alms is another feature of the shrine, he said. Every Friday or Saturday, the offertory collected in donation box is distributed among the destitute.

The church attracts students from nearby colleges. Many of them are not Christians but are regular visitors to the church. Many are from Jharkhand, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh. Some of them from Bihar, studying in Nitte Mahalinga Adyanthaya Institute of Technology (NMAMIT), located nearby, said they went to the church as it was quiet. Praful Kumar, a resident of Ranchi in Jharkhand, studying at NMAMIT, visits the church frequently with his friends, a group of 10 to 15 people who are not Christians.

About three months ago, the students of the engineering college added the church to an online map of Karkala, which they created as part of an OpenStreetMap project.

One person, who did not wish to be named, said it did not matter how many shrines people visit. What was more important was whether they followed their faiths in their everyday life.

He said he had no problem with those who visited various shrines. However, it is not correct if people visit religious places and then do harm to others. “If you can’t do good, don’t do bad either,” he said.

The church has a page on Facebook.

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