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Mother Salette Festival
Kodaikanal, a Hill station situated in Southern India, is known for its beautiful and ancient churches. Its rich Christian culture and tradition, still stands apart. One of the ancient churches is the "Mother Salette" church, which is 133 years old. Every year on the 14th and 15th of august, a unique carnival takes place at this church. This brings about the conclusion to a Nine-day festival.This festival attracts a congregation of people from all over south India, irrespective of religion, creed or faith. The festival is marked by special services and a special procession.
The sculptural elegance of the churches in Kodaikanal add to the natural beauty of the surroundings and provide not just inner but aesthetic pleasure as well. The meaning of Kodaikanal is "the Shade in Summer". The credit of being the first catholic priest goes to Father Louis Saint Ceer. Father Louis belongs to Christ Church. He came to Kodaikanal on 1952 for the first time. He reached Kodaikanal travelling by horse for 4 days even in Thunder and heavy rain. When he arrived Kodai, there was only Baynes, Parker, Clark, Parday bungalows. After viewing this he returned to the plain.
In the year 1860, May 24th Father Louis sait came with his father Rettary and stayed in Baynes bungalow at Kodaikanal. After some days they owned the Baynes bungalow under their responsibility on September 29. That bungalow was changed as a rest house for the members of Christ Church. Father Rettary became the first president of the church. La-providence, a lady, gave 20,000 rupees as donation for the reconstruction of the bungalow. So Baynes bungalow was now called as La-providence. But it's sold out now.
In 1858, Father Saint Ceer was severely affected by viral fever. With lots of hope he prayed to the Lady of La Salete. Soon after, the priest was cured and he vowed to setup a church in India that would mirror the church of La Salete in France. He happened to choose the mountainous region Kodaikanal to built this special House of God because the church he wished to emulate encased with in the mighty mountain rains of the alps. This church was made towards his feeling and to heel others as well.
The foundation for Mother Salete Church was laid on 1865 February 28. In the same year March 17 the building work was started with the blessings of Father Saint Ceer.
In 1866 the day, when brother Lamothy built the body of the Church, thank's offering was fulfilled.
In the year 1866, the last sunday of May, Mother Salete Church was dedicated by Keanos. This is the first pilgrimage place in India for Mother Salete. So from 1866 onwards every last Sunday of May, the festival was celebrated for Mother Salete. Huge crowd of people will travel from plain for 3 days and reach Mother Salete Church. The British people complained about the disturbances of the crowd. So this festival was banned up to 1893.
In the year 1904 the steps were taken to recelebrate the festival and it was succeeded on August 15th. Very few Europeans will be there at Kodai on this occasion.
Mrs. Kacondys helped hand to build up Mother Saleth Church. Her busy daughter felt sick and she was cured by the water of Salete inty with the advice of Saint Ceer. To show him gratitude she donated some amount which was helpful for raising the church. In the year 1869 Mr.Natigan the engineer at Dindigul gave 19 acres of land for Mother Salete Church.
In the year 1883, ' The entrance of Mother Salate Church ' was established. In between 1884 and 1885 the Church was extended 5 mtrs by its sides and the front portion is affixed with several spires that end in the figure of the cross and square bell tower was also established.
The statue of Mother Salete was given as a gift to John, the Baptist by Fara Bishop of Grenoble. Holy Michael's statue was given as a memorial statue to Father Michael Besard.
Father Saint Ceer expired on January 17th, 1887. His Holy Body was burried at the entrance of the Mother Salete Church.
Summer festival programmes in the month of May includes Flower Show , Dog Show and Boat Shows.