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Manoj R Nair, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, October 12, 2012
After the century-old bells of Our Lady of Victories in Mahim made way for electronic chimes last week, some of the church’s neighbours have complained that the replacement is too loud. The bells at the Mahim church had summoned generations of church-goers twice a day, to what is called the Angelus prayers. Earlier in October, the bells were replaced by the electronic chimes that play a hymn to call people for the prayers at 6.30am and 6.30pm. 

On Wednesday, when the chimes did not ring for the evening prayers, concerned church members met the parish priest, who said that he had been instructed by the police to stop using them. 

While the priest decided to follow police orders, several church members felt that the police directive was not fair. “The chimes are not loud and last for only 30 seconds,” said Raymond D’Souza, a member of the church. “We will continue to use the chimes; the bells will be used only when the chimes don’t work.” Father Savio De Sales, the parish priest, said he did not want to comment on the dispute.

Dr Suhas Awchat who runs a restaurant in the area is one of those who said the chimes were too loud. “I have no complaint against the bells, but the chimes are too loud. I am not targeting the church. In the past, I have complained about noise from the Ganesh festival too,” said Awchat.

Church members said the bells are as old as the church, which recently celebrated its 150th jubilee.

“The ringing of the bells for the Angelus prayers is an old tradition,” said Gordon D’Souza, president of the Bombay Catholic Sabha, a community group. “When there were no tall buildings in the area, the sound of the bells used to reach the entire parish.”

The decision to replace the bells with chimes was a practical one, said parish members. “The bells have to operated manually but the electronic chimes can be scheduled to ring automatically,” said Raymond D’Souza.    

Dashrath Patil, senior inspector of Mahim police station said residents had complained that the church was using speakers in addition to the bell for the morning mass. “We held a discussion with local leaders to resolve the issue amicably,” he said.