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Velankanni Church in TN added to Delhi government's free pilgrimage scheme for senior citizens

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Wednesday that the first train to Ayodhya under the free pilgrimage scheme for senior citizens will leave on December 3 and the government is going to include Vailankanni Church in Tamil Nadu to the list of destinations very soon.

Velankanni Church in TN added to Delhi governments free pilgrimage scheme for senior citizens
Vailankanni Church. File photo

New Delhi

Last month, the Delhi Cabinet had approved the inclusion of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh in the 'Mukhyamantri Tirth Yatra Yojana'.

''I have very good news for the people of Delhi. I had visited Ayodhya and paid obeisance to Shri Ram Lalla at the Janmabhoomi. The time I spent in the darbar of Lord Shri Ram engulfed me with divinity and peace throughout,'' he said in an online briefing.

''As I stepped out of the premises, I had only one thought in my mind — Lord, please bestow upon me the strength to help each and every citizen of this country visit Ayodhya and offer prayers in your darbar. As soon as I came back to Delhi, we revisited our Mukhyamantri Tirth Yatra Yojna and added Ayodhya to the list of routes,'' the chief minister said.

He said the first train to Ayodhya under the scheme will leave on December 3 and registration has commenced for the journey. Eligible people willing to visit Ayodhya can register by visiting the Delhi government's e-district portal, the chief minister informed.

''You must not worry that if there are too many applications, then yours will be left out. I will ensure everyone gets to visit. If there are more people than the capacity of the train, then we will put another train on the route. If there are still more applicants, then we will put in a third train. The train may leave after a week, but will take everyone,'' he said.

Kejriwal also announced that following the demands raised by Christians, the government will soon be including Vailankanni Church in the list of pilgrimage sites under the scheme.

''Christian brothers demanded that a place of their pilgrimage be included in this list. Today, I want to give some good news to them also. Many Christians wish to go to Vailankanni Church. We are going to include Vailankanni Church in the list of pilgrimages very soon and you will also be able to go on pilgrimage as per your wish,” he added.

Earlier, there used to be 12 listed routes to where the people could avail the free pilgrimage under the scheme. The shrines included Puri, Dwarka, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Rameshwaram, Shirdi and Ajmer Sharif among other holy sites.

''Now, Ayodhya has been added to the list as well. One can choose any site of their preference out of these to go on pilgrimage and apply. Senior citizens of Delhi can take benefit of this scheme. Additionally, every senior citizen can take along an attendant with them on the pilgrimage. Till now, over 36,000 people have been on pilgrimage thanks to this scheme,'' shared Kejriwal.

'Mukhyamantri Tirth Yatra Yojna' was approved by the Delhi Cabinet on January 9, 2018. The pilgrimage scheme had been halted due to COVID-19, but now it will be resuming.

The scheme provides assistance to those aged 60 or above to go on a pilgrimage to the sites listed under the scheme.

Any senior citizen can avail the scheme after acquiring a certificate from their local MLA, stating that they live in the legislator's constituency. One attendant aged 21 or more can accompany each traveller. The government bears the expenses for the attendant too.

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