The day marked by visit to mass graves, silent processions, special prayers and floral homage

Bitter memories of December 26, 2004, were relived in the coastal villages of Chennai, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Kanyakumari and Tuticorin districts when the ninth anniversary of tsunami was observed on Thursday.

In Nagapattinam, the town which lost the largest number of people, next of kin were still grappling with the loss of their loved ones. For 38-year-old Anbarasi, who had lost her young son to the killer waves, time is yet to play the healer. The fishing hamlets were littered with hoardings bearing eulogies of the dead and commemorated memories of loved ones. Occasional wails, solemn silences, and choked tears punctuated the sordid atmosphere.

And for the children of Annai Sathya Home for tsunami orphans, who were too young to cope with a loss so intense, this annual floral tribute stoked emotions forcing them to relive those times and come to terms with their loss.

Earlier, tributes were paid at the Tsunami memorial erected in memory of 6,045 victims. Similar tributes were paid at the Keechankuppam memorial.

Fishermen – from Arockiapuram to Neerodi in Kanyakumari and Periyathalai to Vembar in Tuticorin - stayed away from sea as a mark of respect to the hundreds of people swallowed by killer waves.

As many as 43,804 families, comprising 1.88 lakh people, were affected in the coastal areas of Kanyakumari district.

People offered floral homage at the ‘Tsunami Stupi’ at Triveni Sangamam Park in Kanyakumari. Special prayers were offered at the Anthirayas Church at Manakudi, St. Alex Church in Kottilpadu and Kanikkai Matha Church in Colachel, places of mass burials.

Fishermen, along with their family members, offered flowers to the ‘Tsunami Stupi’ at Colachel, Kottilpadu and Manakudi. Residents of Kottilpadu took out a silent procession and lit candles.

In Tuticorin, fisher folk, mostly clad in black, took out a silent procession towards Threspuram coast and paid floral homage in the shore. The mourners carried candles and flowers.

Children of a special school run by National Child Labour Programme at Inigo Nagar conducted a candle light prayer.

“Nine years after the tragedy, coastal families are slowly returning to the mainstream. Their social status has also improved, post-tsunami, due to mechanisation of fishing craft. In future, the focus should be on education, health and hygiene,” says Rev. Fr. Gildos, Director, Coastal Peace and Development, Kanyakumari.

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