Devout Catholics gathered at churches across the city on Friday to celebrate the birthday of Mother Mary. One such Mumbaikar, Gordon D'Silva, attended the Mass with his family and now looks forward to spending time at the Mount Mary’s fair and feast organised from September 10-17.
Mother Mary's Feast
The feast, which follows a Novena period of devotees seeking Mother Mary's intercession in their prayers, lasts for eight days and begins on the first Sunday after her birthday on September 8. For most churches in the city, the Novena commences from August 30 and culminates with the Feast of the Birth of Mother Mary on September 8. At the Basilica of Mount Mary in Bandra, the celebrations span eight days and draw a significant number of attendees.
“We have morning and evening masses scheduled, and for those who cannot physically visit Mount Mary, we have created a YouTube link on our website for them to participate remotely,” shared Fr Sunder Albuquerque, vice rector of the Basilica of Mount Mary. The Basilica is known as a place of faith where people come to seek fulfillment of their wishes. During the feast, stalls selling various religious and non-religious goods are set up on the steps of Mount Mary and along the roads leading to the church.
Devotees can find wax body parts, figurines of babies, homes, cars, and planes to fulfill their wishes among the religious items. The non-religious offerings include traditional East-Indian delicacies, food items, sweets, pickles, and more. Many devotees also engage in acts of charity during this time. To accommodate the continuous flow of devotees, BEST will operate an additional 287 buses throughout the week.
Security beefed up
“We are expecting large crowds this year as well,” stated Fr. Sunder Albuquerque. The Basilica of Mount Mary is thronged by lakhs of people every year, irrespective of the faith they belong to. Three to four entry points have been created along with a big shamiana (covering) for the devouts to assemble. Stringent security measures have been put in place, including the use of fire-resistant frames instead of bamboo and well-insulated electrical fittings.
Additionally, 75 CCTV cameras will monitor the area, alongside security personnel and police officers who will assist with crowd management. Fr Albuquerque further said, “The police have requested devotees to avoid carrying backpacks to minimise delays during baggage checks and photography, as these can cause traffic. Be cautious of pickpockets.”