In 1988, when a group of 12 men decided to organise a march for peace in the city, little did they know that their small initiative would turn into a mini movement in the years to come. Called the All Night Walking Pilgrimage, the march, since then, has been held annually on one particular day during Lent (the 40-day period leading to Easter). Drawing thousands of Mumbaikars, it begins at night, covers a major portion of the city, and winds up by early morning. And this year, it will complete its silver jubilee.
For our first walk, we took inspiration from two organisations — Alcoholics Anonymous and Legion of Mary,” says 63-year-old Felix Dias, vice president of Marian Seva angh (MSS), a Christian body that has been organising the event. But the march itself has always been secular in its appeal, attracting people from all faiths and walks of life. “In the very first year itself, out of the about 1,500 people who participated, numerous were non-Christians,” informs Dias.
The only year that the organisers didn’t hold the march was in 1993 when the city witnessed communal violence.This year, the walk will be held on Saturday, March 16. Staying true to tradition, it will commence from Cross Maidan, Dhobi Talao, at 10 pm and then pass through Marine Lines, Opera House, Tardeo, Haji Ali, Siddhivinayak Temple, Portuguese Church, Mahim, Reclamation Hill Road, finishing at Mount Mary around 6 am.
There will be two halts along the way — one each at the Worli Sea Face and Dadar’s Portuguese Church — where refreshments are served for free to every participant.
Says Dias, “People get tired by the time they reach Dadar. So we serve them tea and biscuits, which are sponsored by donors.” The entire route is given police cover and there are ushers who guide pilgrims and direct traffic. “Annually about 25,000 people participate and we hope to get more people this time around,” says Dias.
For details, contact Marian Seva Foundation, 3, Nazareth Niketan, Dr Charat Singh Colony Road, Chakala, Andheri (E). Call 2832 6290.