Candle light vigil, silent rallies mark 16th Tsunami anniversary in TN

Chennai: The wounds might have healed. But the scars remain.

Silent and solemn rallies, tearful homage, lighting candles and special worships in memory of those swept away by the deadly tsunami, this day in 2004, marked the observation of the 16th solemn anniversary in Tamilnadu on Saturday.

The massive tsunami, triggered by deadly tidal waves had claimed more than 8,000 lives and devastated the coastal districts of Chennai, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and
Kanniyakumari, besides leaving a trail of horror memories.

In most of the fishing hamlets fishermen observed the day as a black day. In some of the districts, fishermen stayed away from the sea as a mark of respect to the victims.

“Though the tragedy occurred 16 years back, it is still vivid in our memory as if it had occurred today,” the fishermen said, justifying their decision to stay away
from sea.

The family of fishermen Habibulla at Koraikuppam village in Tiruvallur district was still yet to recover from the shock and horror when he saw his wife being washed away by the giant waves.

On that fateful Sunday in 2004, his wife had went out to purchase fish for lunch at a stall near the shore. But she did not return home. Habibulla only saw her body floating in the waters.

“I am yet to recover from the shock. The incident is still vivid in my mind…even after 16 years,” he added.

In the coastal districts, tens and hundreds of people, including weeping women, showered flowers and poured pots of milk into the sea as a mark of remembrance of
those who perished in the tragedy.

Reports from Cuddalore, Kanniyakumari, Kancheepuram and the worst-affected Nagapattinam said special prayers were held and candles were lit at the memorial to pay respects to the victims.

Silent processions were also taken to mark the occasion and Ministers and respective District Collectors placed wreaths at the Tsunami memorial, lit candles and observed two minutes’ silence as a mark of respect to the victims.

In Nagapattinam, Minister O S Maniam paid tributes by placing a wreath at the tsunami memorial. He also poured milk into the sea, lit candles and observed two minutes’ silence.

Poignant and emotional scenes were witnessed on the sands of Marina in Chennai city as people, mostly fisherfolk, gathered in large numbers to observe the anniversary.

Women from fishing hamlets, accompanied by their family members paid homage to those who fell victim to the giant waves by pouring pots of milk into the sea at
Srinivasapuram area.

They also lit candles on the seashore and showered flower petals in the sea, as women wailed mourning the deaths of their kith and kin.

“I am always thinking of my wife, who perished in the tsunami,” a survivor in Srinivasapuram said.

“I lost my son and was thinking of him always,” said another, mourning the deaths.

A silent procession was also organised in North Chennai to mourn the tsunami victims.

Fishermen Associations also took out a silent procession in the fishing hamlet of Nochikuppam and also at Kasimedu Fishing Harbour in North Chennai.

State Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar joined the fishermen in paying floral tributes to the victims at Kasimedu.

While the fishing community were still haunted by the tsunami, their only prayer was that never in their life such a tragedy should recur.

At the coastal Nagapattinam, which was ravaged by the tsunami fury claiming more than 6,500 lives, silent processions were taken out from the Velankanni Church
to mourn the victims.

The near and dear ones of the deceased paid floral tributes by placing wreaths at solemn functions in Velankanni and Akkaraipettai, in which the district
collector participated.

People also offered silent prayers at the Meditation Hall at Akkarapettai, constructed as a mark of respect to the tsunami victims.

Mourners also lit candles as a mark of respect to those who perished in the worst ever disaster.

Several wailing women and the relatives of hundreds of victims came to the sea shore and poured milk and flower petals.

Children too were seen carrying milk in glasses to pay their homage. People also lined up at the ‘Tsunami Memorial’ to pay floral tributes to those who died in the disaster.

In Kanniyakumari, special masses were organised at Churches and silent processions were taken. People visited the shore and poured milk into the sea. They also placed wreaths and lit candles at the place where the victims were buried enmasse after the deadly tragedy.

Similar scenes were witnessed in the coastal district of Cuddalore, which was also hit by the tsunami fury.

Elsewhere in the coastal areas, silent processions were taken out and candles were lit to mark the occasion.


NT Bureau