Bandra is all set for a week of fun with the annual eight-day Mount Mary fair beginning Sunday.
The celebrations centred around Mount Mary Basilica, also referred to as the Festival of Mary, has traditionally begun from the first Sunday after September 8, which is celebrated as the birthday of Mother Mary.
The festival goes on till the next Sunday. This year, the church has been decorated with plants.
“Our theme this year is environmental preservation. This is why we decided to transform the church into a garden,” said Peter D’Souza, director of the webpage of Mount Mary Basilica.
Preachings this year will reflect the theme ‘Care For Creation’. “Pope Francis has written an laudato letter appealing not just the Catholics but everybody in the world to preserve the earth,” said D’Souza.
On September 20, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the archbishop of the Bombay diocese, will be addressing the devotees.
“I will be preaching on devotion to our Lady, service and inter-religious harmony. Thousands of people coming together is just an indication of the harmony in which people could live together,” said the cardinal.
Devotees and enthusiasts gather in huge numbers from early morning and stay till the evening.
“All of us who gather here will experience peace, tranquility and happiness on the eve of celebration of birth of our beloved Virgin Mary,” said Father Aniceto Pereira, vice-reactor at the shrine.
However, the East Indians have expressed their unhappiness over not being given preference in allotment of stalls at the fair. Around 350-500 stalls come up during the fair every year.
“Being a part of the community, the Church and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) did not allot us a single stall to give us an opportunity to make some money and showcase our talent through the same. We feel sidelined,” said Walter Murzello, spokesperson, the East Indian Community.
Explaining the allotment system, Father Pereira said, “We do not go by community. We have the ones who are traditionally allotted spots. They have been putting up stalls for many years now. We have told them to write a letter so that we can consider them next year.”
(HT Photos: Pratham Gokhale)