For the Mumbaikars, September is the month of fulfilment of dreams, wishes and hopes. With the winding up of the holy month of Ramzan, comes the time for Lord Ganapati to bring cheer and happiness to the masses of Mumbai. By the time the Lord has departed to his land, showering blessings on the people of the island city, the calm and serene Our Lady of Mount Mary brings in peace, love and healing among the faithful. Celebrated in the month of September, to mark the birth of the Virgin Mary, the fair can rightly be described as a Festival of Faith as people from diverse faiths and walks of life flock the church to bow before the Mother.
Standing serenely by the vast Arabian Sea and bearing witness to the ever changing landscape around is the oldest Church of Mumbai, The Mount Mary Basilica. Built more than 400 years ago by the Portuguese, the church stands on a hillock over 80 meters above sea level. The fair was started about 300 years ago in 1760 when a statue of the Virgin Mary was found floating in the Arabian Sea, exactly the way a “Koli” fisherman had dreamt a few years earlier. Thus began the legend of the Mount Mary. Praying before the statue has been known to have miraculous results.
Celebrated on the 8th of September, the fair draws faithful from all religions and all social strata, some to request favours and some to thank for granted favours. And the rest, to enjoy the ambience. The entire area around the church in Bandra, bears the look of a jovial fair. The fair indulges the visitors with amusing joyrides, mini bazaars selling everything from trinkets to memorabilia, and food stalls. Traditional mouth watering Goan delicacies available at the fair are an epicurean’s dream come true. Book readings, street plays and music concerts also become a part of the fair.
For the faithful, the church is no less than the holy land of fulfilment. Miracles have been claimed to happen when prayed with true faith to the Mother. Wax figures of hands, feet and other parts of the body are sold at the fair. The ailing choose a wax figure corresponding to their ailing part and light it in the church for relief. For those looking for peace or resolution of any issues, lighting a candle at the church is supposed to bring in relief. The pious believe the candles and the wax figures are considered by the Mother Mary as appeals for help.
As Mumbai gears up to say goodbye to the Elephant God, Lord Ganesha, Bandra has already started getting ready to ring in the fair of faith. A month of miracles, September is the time of festivities to the people of Mumbai who manage to take a break from their mechanical lives, to have their share of fun, faith and festivities.