Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, Bandra
|Mount Mary Church|
|Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount|
|Dedication||Blessed Virgin Mary|
|Number of spires||2|
|Archbishop||Oswald Cardinal Gracias|
|Rector||Bishop John Rodrigues |
Rev. Fr. Michael Goveas
The feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated here on the first Sunday after 8 September, the birthday of the Virgin Mary. The feast is followed by a week-long celebration known locally as the Bandra Fair and is visited by thousands of people.
The basilica stands on a hillock, about 80 metres above sea level overlooking the Arabian Sea. It draws lakhs of devotees and pilgrims annually. Many of the faithful attest to the miraculous powers of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The shrine attracts people from all faiths who pray to the Virgin Mary for expressing their gratitude or requesting favours. The church was destroyed in 1738 during a raid by the Marathas.
During the Bandra Fair, the entire area is decorated with festoons and buntings. Many pitch up stalls to sell religious articles, roasted grams, snacks and sweets. Wax figures of the Virgin Mary along with an assortment of candles shaped like hands, feet and various other parts of the body are sold at kiosks. The sick and the suffering choose a candle or wax figure that corresponds to their ailment and light it in Church, with the pious hope that Mother Mary will consider their appeals for help.
The statue of the Virgin Mary
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 brought the statue to the current location and constructed a chapel in what was then, the Portuguese East Indies. 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. Legend has it that a Koli Christian fisherman dreamt of the statue floating in the sea, and as prophesied in the dream the statue was indeed found the next day, floating in the sea. A Jesuit Annual Letter dated to 1669 and published in the book St. Andrew's Church, Bandra (1616–1966) supports this claim. The Koli Fishermen call the statue as Mot Mauli, literally meaning the Pearl Mother or the Mother of the Mount (Mot being corruption of the word "mount" and Mauli, meaning Mother). However, the previous statue is now restored, is enshrined in a place of honour in the basilica. Both Hindu and Koli Christians (Bombay East Indians) visit this shrine often making the place a prominent feature of intercommunal harmony and interfaith dialogue in Bombay.
- Mount Mary fair begins today[permanent dead link] Indian Express, 8 September 2007.
- Devotees throng to Bandra Fair on opening day as stall owners protest DNA (newspaper), 13 September 2010.
- "Mount Mary Church In Bandra Is Believed To Make All Your Wishes Come True". Fork Media. 31 January 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
- A Hindu nationalist leader at the Marian Shrine AsiaNews, 12 September 2011.
Media related to Mount Mary Church, Bandra at Wikimedia Commons