It was Durvesh Pawar’s first year selling candles at the Bandra fair and every time a pilgrim walked up to but a candle from him, he felt a tinge of excitement mingled with devotion.
Thousands of pilgrims walked up to the Mount Mary Church and Basilica on the first day of Bandra Fair on Sunday.
"I’ve already sold 500 candles and I hope I’ll sell more by the end of the day," said Pawar, whose parents have put up a stall at the fair. For regulars, the fair is all about meeting people they don’t meet because of busy daily schedules and the feeling of belonging to a community.
"It’s through these days that we sit with our friends and have conversations with people we love, but can’t interact with because of hectic schedules. Some of these people we don’t get to meet at all apart from the fair but it feels great to see old friends," said stall owner Priyanka Lad, whose family has been putting up a stall at the fair for generations.
Bandra-based businessman Roshan Aggarwal said, "I have been coming here for the past 55 years, and it doesn’t matter that I am not a Catholic, the fair has a very secular flavour."
But barely half way into the first day of the festivities, the fair was interrupted as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) came in to demolish illegal stalls at 3 pm on Sunday.
Vendors gathered to protest against the BMCs behavior and more importantly, the attitude of residents and ALMs towards their stalls.
" The Mount Mary fair is 104 years old while these residents have only been around for a decade, some of these people have been setting up stalls right from their grandparents’ times. It is the only time they get to earn something and these residents are only protesting because they would have trouble finding parking for their cars," said Rohit Raut (27), a representative of the stall owners.