Bandra Fair:Mount Mary Basiica


Bandra Fair ends on spectacular note

Bella Jaisinghani TNN

     Mumbai: In a spectacular finale, nearly one lakh devotees offered prayers and thanksgiving on the last day of Bandra Fair at Mount Mary Basilica on Sunday. The week-long celebrations, marking the nativity of Mother Mary, began on September 8.

     Fr Aniceto Pereira of the church was at once “relieved and sad” that the festival was at an end. “It has been a spiritually exciting period for me to see so many people arrive for darshan in an expression of faith. We had large crowds for morning services and the church was filled up for evening mass as well,” he said.

      Old-time residents of the area recall how the Feast of Mother Mary was a big household celebration just like Christmas until the 1980s. Children would wear new clothes through the eight days of the festival while their families hosted relatives, who would arrive for darshan from all parts of the city. Sweetmeats were prepared as part of the festive menu.

      Recalling the link that Mother Mary as Our Lady of Good Health bears to the concurrent celebration of Velankanni, social activist Daphne Warapen says that people arrive to seek the Mother’s intercession to cure them of sickness and disease. “Mother Mary is not treated as God but as intercessor. So many people, including the handicapped, come to seek favours, others travel to offer thanksgiving,” she says.

       It is a testimony to the efficiency of the police, BMC and traffic authorities that autorickshaw drivers no longer refuse to ply to the area. Fr Aniceto appreciated the cooperation the church received from every quarter and the residents agreed.

     Daphne has noticed the sea change that has swept the festival over the years, particularly the commercialization and traffic jams that residents complain about. She said, “However, large crowds gather only on the weekend.

     To those who suggest that the fair be discontinued, I would say that one does tolerate similar inconvenience during other festivals as well. In fact, Bandra Fair is a localized event unlike bigger festivals that are celebrated citywide.”

Sea of faithful expected today as Bandra Fair comes to an end

Bella Jaisinghani TNN

Mumbai: Sunday marks the end of the week-long Bandra Fair that surrounds the celebration of Our Lady of the Mount in Bandra. More than 1 lakh people are expected to throng the hill-top shrine and fill the seafront promenade on Sunday.
Each day, thousands of devotees from all parts of the city have been converging at the Mount Mary Basilica for ‘darshan’ of Mother Mary since her birthday celebrations began on September 8. Special Novena prayers were held across this and other churches across the city in the run-up to the festival.
Cecilia Rodrigues, a senior citizen who lives in the neighbouring Mount Unique Apartment, cannot help being amazed at the faith that drives lakhs of devotees up the mount each year. “The numbers are only increasing. We watch them come from all parts of the world, some senior citizens, some young couples, others carrying babies in arms, and we pray that Mother Mary grants their wishes,” she says.
However, the overwhelming “ocean of people”, as she calls it, does deter residents from stepping out during the last three or four days of the fair. “I do visit the basilica for the Novena but not after the fair starts. We are given car passes but the sight of the entire road filled with an unending procession of people precludes the possibility of going out,” she laughs.
Arup Sarbadhikary, who heads a local residents’ association, says he has offered to design proper hawking spaces for vendors selling eatables along the seafront in a garden nearby. “We have offered to seek funds to design not just stalls but also toilets and drinking water amenities. But the authorities are not sure if they can allow a public garden to be used for this, even if it be temporary,” he says.
“I must say the traffic is extremely well managed. There was a time I would leave town during the fair, but this year I stayed back. The BMC, police and traffic department are doing a wonderful job,” he says.

FOR ALL AGES: Devotees at Mount Mary Basilica on Saturday