On Monday, pilgrims travelling to Vailankanni had no choice, but to board a regular train since there had been a delay in issuing the notification and scheduled departure on the special train to the pilgrim centre.
In fact, the Margao railway station was overloaded with inquiries by the stressed pilgrims four days before the date of departure, when they finally boarded the direct train on Monday. This was due to the delay in issuing the notification for the special train by Indian Railways.
Former Aquem Sarpanch Inacio Dias said the delay in issuing the notification for the special train has caused severe hardships and inconveniences to the pilgrims. “The ‘maddi’ at Vailankanni is scheduled on August 29, but the pilgrims have left for the centre on Monday itself, no signs of the special train schedule.”
Our Lady of Good Health is also known as Our Lady of Vailankanni. According to traditional beliefs, the Marian apparition is said to have occurred to a young boy delivering milk to the neighbourhood when the Virgin Mary, carrying the child Jesus, is said to have appeared. This apparition has not been approved by the Holy See.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health erected by the Portuguese and the Indians stands at this site. The iconic depiction of the Madonna is unique in that it is one of two only icons where Mary is portrayed wearing an Indian Sari, while the other statue is said to have been buried with Aurangzeb, the Mughal Emperor.
Thousands of Goans visit Vailankanni every year, beginning with the commencement of the traditional ‘maddi’ on August 29, followed by the 10-day novenas. Most people make it to the pilgrim centre by trains; however, others travel by other modes of transport.