Every year since 1897, the Marian novena and feast has been held at St. Anthony´s Church in Yangon. The feast, which originated at Velankani in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, is based on the devotion to Our Lady of Good Health.
In Myanmar 70 percent of all novena participants are ethnic Tamils. They are descendants of Indian Tamils who came with British colonizers in the late 19th century to work as traders, teachers, nurses, soldiers and police. Many have since returned to India, and today Tamil Catholics in Myanmar, the main Velankani devotees, are estimated at 60,000.
Devotees offer flowers, incense, candles and coconut lamps filled with butter to a statue of Velankani hoping to be cured of ailments or to maintain good health.