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Mount Mary Festival

The Mount Mary Festival, also known as Bandra Fair is an annual event held at the Mount Mary Church, Bandra, Mumbai. Every year, the Mount Mary Basilica at Bandra celebrates the festival to honor the memory of Mother Mary, who was born on 8th September. The whole of Bandra metamorphoses into a carnival where games, concerts, amusement rides and revelry are in full swing for all eight days of the festival.

History of the Mount Mary Church

The present church structure is over 100 years old but its history dates back to the 1700 AD. It is believed that priests who came down from Portugal first constructed the chapel. They are credited with having transported the statuette here. When the church was refurbished and rebuilt in 1760, the statue was substituted with a statue of Our Lady of Navigators. The old statue however continues to be worshipped after restoration. Hindus, Christians and Kolis of the region have immense faith in the idol and believe that their prayers will be answered if they pray here with true faith.

Importance of the Festival

Mother Mary holding little Jesus to her bosom is the centerpiece of the Bandra Mount Mary Church. The Kolis of Bandra refer to the statue as Moti Mauli or Pearl Mother in Marathi because as the story goes, the statue was discovered after fisherman has a dream that such a statue would be found in the Arabian Sea and the dream indeed came true.

Mount Mary Festival is held within the Mount Mary Church complex and spreads to the lanes around the church. The church is regarded as one of the most holy places for Christians. However, the fair attracts a large crowd of people of all religions and communities. The festival begins on the first Sunday after 8 September every year as it is regarded as the birthday of the Virgin Mary.

Shopping at the Festival

During the festival, the Municipal Commission of Mumbai gives temporary permission to applicants for putting up stalls that sells exotic delicacies of both Goan and Maharashtrian culture.  They also sell sweets, homemade cakes and fudges, vindaloo, sorpotel, roasted black grams and chikki which is a mix of nuts and jaggery presented in various shapes.

Many stalls also sell wax items that represent various needs of the devotees. Those who suffer from ill health can donate wax human-shaped body or relevant body parts like arms, legs, head etc. Wax items are also sold in the shape of cars, homes and other things that people may be desire to own.

The Mount Mary festival attracts lakhs of people every day but the crowd is significantly more on the first and the last two to three days. Traffic police and local volunteers ensure that crowds move in a disciplined manner. The whole area of Mount Mary Road, Chapel Road, Saint John Baptist Road and other bye-lanes are out of bounds for vehicles during the eight-day festival period.

How to Reach

Brihan Mumbai Suburban Transport (BEST) buses are reserved specially to ferry devotees from Bandra Railway station and bus depot to the Mount Mary Church. There are private taxis and auto rickshaws also available from the station to go the footsteps of the church. The nearest railway station is Bandra Railway station on the Western Railway.

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