How can I impress a Tamil mother

Tamils ​​make a pilgrimage to Kevelaer: dance, colorful saris and deep faith

For Kiuria, dance is an intense prayer. The 20-year-old Tamil from Bremen has just opened the service of the great Tamil pilgrimage to Kevelaer in the Pax-Christi-Forum with four other dancers with a dance from Sri Lanka, the home of the Tamils.

The young women dance with a lot of passion and expression. “This is how we pray to God,” says Kiuria. "For us he is the greatest, the creator and the comforter when things are not going well." The dancers have different concerns. “For some it's an exam at university, for me it's the success of my marriage,” says Amali, who is getting married in a few days.

Prayer for equality

Amali, Kiuria, Vivien, Saumika and Maria live in Christian Tamil families. “We were brought up to believe from an early age,” says Amali. “As an adult, you have to make new decisions. We decided."

Like Thilakshan from Frankfurt, who serves mass in the Pax-Christi-Forum. The 25-year-old has lived in Germany for more than 15 years. For him, the Tamil pilgrimage to Kevelaer is a festival of faith - and community. Around 60,000 Tamils ​​live in Germany, mostly Hindus, around 3,000 are Catholic. “The pilgrimage is also consolation, especially for the elderly Tamils,” he says. The civil war was over, but today the Tamils ​​made a pilgrimage to Kevelaer to pray for equality. In Sri Lanka they are still second class citizens.

Attacks on Easter

Robin Wilson, one of the initiators of the pilgrimage, stands by the candle chapel. “Fifty Tamils ​​came 32 years ago,” he says. This has turned into the largest single pilgrimage to Kevelaer with more than 10,000 people at times - this time 8,000 people are there. Wilson says you have to pray for peace - and recalls the attacks during the Easter mass in Sri Lanka in 2019.

Wilson knows that the situation of Tamils ​​in the diaspora is difficult. A pastor is responsible for 32 parishes in Germany. Separated from their homeland, the parents tried to pass traditions on to the next generation.

Family worries

The younger generation doesn't just fight with faith. Albert Koolen, Tamil pastor from Krefeld, reminds in a greeting at the fair that young people also have to wrestle with traditions and are looking for their own self-image.

Bishop Justin Gnanapragasam from the Diocese of Jaffna addresses the concerns of the families. He reminds the Tamils ​​of the Holy Family. You have had to experience many problems such as flight and displacement. But the unshakable faith allowed them to triumph over all crises.

Exotic flair

But worries are not the focus on pilgrimage day. The Tamils ​​stroll around in groups, in pairs or alone, standing in lines in front of the Chapel of Mercy and holding candles in their hands. Above all, the women with their colorful saris characterize the Kapellenplatz. It's not just a festival of faith, it's also a happening at which “the chances of getting married are tested,” as a woman at the candlestick says with a smile.

Elisabeth and Heinz Schmitz from Kevelaer also enjoy the exotic flair. They have long been involved in the Tamil pilgrimage and support it by helping to sell candles. The colorful clothing and the discipline in queuing impress both of them - and above all the piety to Mary: After the mass, the Tamils ​​flock to the Mother of God, a replica of the sanctuary of Mahdu. They present their concerns to the mother of Jesus as if she were their mother.