Mumbai: Thousands of devotees on their annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Mount Mary at Bandra

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By Eugene DSouza, Moodubelle
Bellevision Media Network

Mumbai, 11 September 2011: Come September  and for eight days beginning on this Sunday after the Feast of Nativity of the Virgin Mary, thousands of devotees of Mount Mary make a beeline to the shrine atop the mount at Bandra to pay homage to Mother Mary for all the favours that they have received and ask for additional favours. This year, the pilgrimage began from the early morning of Sunday, September 11 and will go on till coming Sunday.


Devotees of Mount Mary, irrespective of their community or creed throng to the shrine at Bandra from all over Mumbai and even from as far as Vasai and its neighbourhood and Kalyan and even beyond. While some of the pilgrims may walk up to the shrine, those who arrive by local trains wait in serpentine queues for the BEST buses which take the pilgrims up to the steps of the hill from where they walk  till the entrance of the Shrine. On the way stall keepers with  candles and wax articles of various types and flowers entice the pilgrims to buy from their stalls to be offered to Mother Mary. A number of nomadic could be seen preparing small bouquets of various flowers and garlands to be offered in the shrine.


On the first day of the pilgrimage there was a lot of rush of the devotees to attend  masses which had started right from early morning. For each mass after practically every half an hour there was heavy rush. Masses were conducted outside the Shrine under a huge pandal.  While parents were attending the Masses, the small children were finding it quite difficult to cope up with the rush and sultry atmosphere. Their uneasiness was writ large on their faces  and the parents had to carry their children on their shoulders so as to pacify them till the Mass could get over.



There was serpentine queue of the pilgrims to enter the main Shrine and offer their candles, flowers, etc. in front of the main altar of Mount Mary which was elegantly decorated with beautiful flowers and the statue of Mount Mary was draped in beautiful saree. The offerings were collected in huge plastic boxes which were taken out regularly to be emptied. Thousands of pilgrims were seen  praying fervently inside the Shrine.


The pilgrimage to Mount Mary is very much associated with the so called ‘Bandra Fair’ as the pilgrims descend through the eastern side of the hill. Various stalls right from displaying and selling religious articles to sweets and the legendary ‘black chanas’ to other items cater to the needs, fancies  and appetite of the pilgrims. This year I could see two stalls selling Rajasthani pickles.


BEST and the police have made all the arrangements for the convenience of the pilgrims. There is the arrangement of special buses exclusively for the pilgrimage for eight days. The police posts not only help in maintaining law and order but also to guide the pilgrims and provide security. After all, the annual pilgrimage to Mount Mary at Bandra is one of the great events where people belonging to different communities mingle with each other and spread the message of brotherhood and communal harmony.


Incidentally, this year the beginning of the Mount Mary pilgrimage coincided with the Anant Chaturdashi, the last day of the Ganesh festival with the immersion of Ganesh idols. Thus, this Sunday marks the goodbye to Ganesh and welcome to Mount Mary.



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