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PHOTOBLOG: Mumbai's 'Other' 10-Day Festival

20/09/2016 1:26 PM IST | Updated 21/09/2016 8:31 AM IST
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In contrast to the cacophony of Ganesh Chaturthi is Mumbai's other 10-day religious festival, one that is much calmer and which welcomes a far more diverse crowd of worshippers.

The Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, or Mount Mary Church, is where the Feast of the Virgin Mary is observed on 8 September, following which there are several days of festivities down the steps of the hilltop place of worship, thronged by hundreds of Mumbaikars.

The Bandra Fair, as it is also known, is believed to have started when a statue of Mother Mary was found floating in the sea in the early 1700s; according to a legend, a Koli fisherman had dreamt about this event earlier. Both Hindu and Christian Kolis visit the church, and the fair draws people of other faiths too, who come here with specific prayers for favours or to offer gratitude.

While this festival attracts large crowds for all of its 10 days, it is markedly different from the loud chaos of Ganesh Chaturthi. Their expressions of devotion are quieter, for instance – you'll find supplicants of multiple faiths, reflecting the diversity of India, praying in silence inside the church rather than riotously celebrating on the streets and immersing idols in the sea (which, unfortunately, is a major cause of pollution).

Apart from stalls that sell items for religious offerings, the steps leading to the Basilica are a kaleidoscope of purveyors selling pickles from Rajasthan, halwa from Kerala, doldol from Goa and sundry odds and ends, such as plastic tambourines and cloth handkerchiefs, which seem almost quaint in this day and age. If Catholic iconography appeals to you, you'll be in luck here.

I was particularly struck by the orderliness of the festival's vistors, even the youngsters taking their selfies. Those who strolled around the premises were respectful towards the praying crowd, acknowledging that in it is in silence that the Divine Mother can best be communed with.

Priyanka Borpujari
Priyanka Borpujari
Priyanka Borpujari
Priyanka Borpujari
Priyanka Borpujari
Priyanka Borpujari
Priyanka Borpujari
Priyanka Borpujari
Priyanka Borpujari
Priyanka Borpujari
Priyanka Borpujari
Priyanka Borpujari
Priyanka Borpujari
Priyanka Borpujari
Priyanka Borpujari
Priyanka Borpujari
Priyanka Borpujari
Priyanka Borpujari

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