Our Lady of the Mount Mary

Most residents of Bandra associate September with the birth anniversary of St Mary and the week long Bandra Fair that follows. All these activities are centered around one of Bandras hillocks, and the crowning glory of this hill, the 101 year old , Our Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount Mary in Bandra, commonly referred to as Mount Mary.

As most would know, Bombay was originally seven islands originally lived on by the Kohlis, it was then initiated by the Portuguese, till it was briefly held by the Marathas before the British took her over till independence. Proof of this brief Iberian tryst is quiet simple to explain, most people in India call the potato - aloo, but in Bombay it is called batata with is incidentally the Portuguese word.

Candy Floss
[Candy ?]


I live in Bandra and drawn by the tales of home made Goan specialities Vindaloo, Xacuto and Sorpotel and not to mention Bibinca, decided to pay the fair a visit. I started at the base of the hill, at Bandra reclamation where the small entwining streets of Bandra Village end. The streets were lined with shops selling everything from strangely shaped candles to clothes to shinny new toys to candy floss and sweets to snacks and food. Hordes of people made their way slowly, in a festive spirit to the top. Kids tagged their parents hands pointing up to the Ferris-wheel and making the appropriately cute gesture, coaxing them into coughing up the money needed for some delirious fun. These are the scenes that make me as trigger happy [with the camera] as a Japanese tourist with a 2 gb flash card.
I was taking picture of the Ferris wheel when a man tapped me on my back and told me, “Bhaiya sambhalke, koi admi ulti kar lega toh ?” [Be careful , what will you do if somebody vomits] I smiled and moved out of the way taking his advice seriously.

Touching the sky

I walked on, I was convinced by this very convincing salewomen of a girl that I needed a candle and some flowers as offering. I melted before her smile ofcourse and obliged.

[A lady pays her respect to the cross. In the backround you can see the rosary]

The central attraction of the 101 year old Bascillaca is the legendary statue of Madonna and baby Christ. Here it the legend

Although the current church edifice is just 100 years old, the history behind the current statue of Our Lady goes back to the 16th century when Jesuit priests from Portugal brought the statue to the current location and constructed a chapel. In 1700 Arab pirates interested in the gilt-lined object held in the hand disfigured the statue by cutting off the right hand.

In 1760, the church was rebuilt and the statue was substituted with a statue of Our Lady of Navigators in St. Andrew's church nearby. This statue has an interesting legend. It goes that a Koli fisherman dreamt that he would find a statue in the sea. The statue was found floating in the sea somewhere between 1700—1760. A Jesuit Annual Letter dated to 1669 and published in the book St. Andrew's Church, Bandra (1616-1966) supports this claim.

In 1761 the original statue was re-adorned with a child in her arms and has been in use ever since. [WIKIPEDIA]

[Ave Maria]

[A pilgrim]

Hope you enjoyed this post, I really enjoyed bringing it to you. May be tomorrow I can catch visarjan

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rusty said...

Nice pics....

pinkblog78 said...

WOW... i had never been inside this church, cool pics.

Sakshi said...

Will be there today....cant wait.

SatishTalim said...

Cool pics. Reminded me of the fun we used to have at the Bandra Fair during my childhood days at Bandra (16th Pali Hill Road from 1960 to 1967, School St. Theresa's High School). Thanks.

Akshay said...

rusty - thank you

pinkblog - It's a nice church, may be on you're next vist to Bombay you could try.

sakshi - Hope you share you're experiences. I just read you brilliant article on Women in Afghanistan.

satishtalim - You went to St Theresa's. Bandra in the 60s would have been so differrent. Would love to see some picture if you have. I haven't live in Bandra all my I've lived all around Bombay dadar, parel, worli, prabhadevi.

SatishTalim said...

Akshay, really sorry but I don't have any pictures on digital. There are some in black and white at my ancestral home.

Bombayite said...

ways to superblogger, awesome pics... lining it on my blog

Phal said...

I want something from fair!!! and bangles also!

Geetanjali said...

Candy floss...it's been ages since I had some at Juhu beach, followed by butter chana masala, nariyal pani (mala wala) and ofcourse last but not the least, kala-khatta gola! *slurp*

Btw, Akshay, you should cut a deal with Lonely Planet! :-)

aparna said...

i had candy floss or buddhi ka baal yesterday.btw geets u know the butter chaana masala has become a lil more expensive its 20 bucks.
akshay - u cud be one of the globe trekkers the one they show on discovery travel and living.
p.s - m hoping u'll cover durga puja too

LD said...

hey - good stuff!
nice to see the banrda fair, esp since I havent had a glimpse of it for the past 3 years in a row :-(

Akshay said...

satish - you should scan them in. Digitalization would help reach a larger audiance.

bombaylives - thanks for the link

phal - you want something from the fair, today was the last day. There were allot of candles there. Thought of you.

geetanjali - I eat candy floss every opportunity I get. I love those wendors you wrap them up indivudually and stick them onto this banboo and move along trying to sell them. Quiet the spectacle.
Lonely planet would be a dream.

aparna - you did, love the sugur kick myself as I've already told geetanjalli here. Love how it melts in your mouth an all you have colourated sugur on you're palate.
Globetrekkers - me . another dream.
I'll sure cover durga puja. I usually go to the puja mandal near linking road, quiet close to National college actually.

ld - May be next year you could make it hear in september. Hows New Zealand this time of year ?

uma said...

lovely post. we used to live opposite mount mary. we still miss living there, and especially bandra. now we live closer to work. but it has its disadvantages...

KJ said...

as usual, excellent pics....

waiting for the visarjan pics.

have a nice day.

Akshay said...

uma - living on Mt Mary obviously has its perk. It's greener than many places in Bombay and not to mention in your backyard. But necessity dictates us more sometimes.

kd - couldn't catch visarjan but I got some pictures all the same

zac said...

Great pix - thanks for bringing your world to mine.

Anonymous said...

thnx it bought back childhood memories of the bandra fair
holidays as i was schooling at the mt mary's convent whenver i am in bombay i do visit the church and offer candles i have great faith in the lady of the mount

Anonymous said...

hi akshay..very beautiful and captivating history of the lady of the mount.. i shoot pictures every year and am the only photographer dreesed as a sadhu..a paronable sin as the lady sees no caste color or creed.. and monsenieur neris rodericks has been a great help.
i too have my blogs on the lady of the mount.. at fotothing..under photographerno1.. check it ot.
professionally i am knowns as firoze shakir bolly woods most wanted designer no1...i am a colaba lad.. and now part of bandra west ethos...
i have photo blogs on buzznet too photographerno1. keep in touch..
maybe the lady wanted us too meet...email..firozeno1@hotmail.com

Lisa said...

Akshay, very informative. I visited Mt Mary's many a time but was clueless about the history. I remember the fair's but was always warned not to eat from the stalls. The pictures are great.
Suggestion: I am interested in finding information about Pali Hill (historical). Possibility for you to also take out pictures??

I am PhD in Toronto who does work on Indians but over here and I am interested in postcolonial Bandra-Pali Hill.


Akshay said...

Lisa -
Well I live on Palli Hill and to be honest, very few colonial bungulow's have survived.
You could send me an email at akshaym[@]gmail[.]com and we could talk about it at lengths.

Melody said...

Wow Akshay!! Really nice shots :)

Have linked back to you from my blog as well!



Farheen said...

i live in bandra.. right next to the church and visit it quite often actually! i just love the pristine clamness inside the church! and it avbiously is very beautiful!

Oh and bandra fair!! the memories of that are too many to talk about!