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 Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, more commonly known as Mount Mary Church, is a Roman Catholic Basilica located in Bandra, Mumbai. 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 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 selling 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 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 between 1700 and 1760. 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 (Mot being corruption of the word "mount" and Mauli, meaning Mother). However the previous statue is now restored and now enjoys the place of honour in the basilica. Both Hindu and Christian Kolis visit this shrine often giving it a kind of syncretic nature.
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Media related to Mount Mary's Church, Bandra at Wikimedia Commons