Khushi Chauhan’s family waited till she had bowed and taken her blessings properly. The family had come all the way from Chembur to ensure that they did not miss a visit to the Basilica of Mount Mary during the feast. Sunday marked the end of the eight-day feast at the basilica in Bandra that sees thousands from various religions and corners come to seek the blessings of Mother Mary.
“We have been coming here for four years before Covid. For us going to a dargah, church, gurudwara or temple is one. We come here to bow,” said Khushi as her sister Priyanka stood beside her. Like her family, even the Mulchandanis came all the way from Virar to be part of the lot that came only to seek blessings. “Sometimes you do not need anything in return to come and pray. You have faith and you land up,” said Prateek Mulchandani.
Meanwhile, Ajit Singh and his family had come as the school his daughters study in asked them to visit the feast. “My daughters study in a Catholic school so they asked that we visit the Mount Mary feast and the fair. After visiting the church, I will be taking them to the fair,” said Singh.
Prayers and games aside, many enjoyed food items that were sold on various stalls. “The black Bengal gram and aam papad is something we always buy,” said Joyce Fernandes who had come from Kurla. Her family also tried eatables sold by locals which included sandwiches, chicken rolls and sorpotel, among others. “The aam papad is very popular and comes from Ratnagiri. It is something that people buy for its distinct taste,” said Mohammed Anees from a stall on the Mount Mary steps.
The feast also brought out a charitable attitude of people nearby. People gave water, fruits and chips to people. “28 years ago when people would come here, they complained of not getting drinking water. Since then we made it a point to provide water to as many people as we can,” said Kavita Parulekar of Pinglewadi Rahiwasi Sangh. A local resident who did not wish to be identified gave bananas, water and chips to women and children. “It is Jesus’ blessing that I am able to do this. He may have put something in me,” he said.
Heavy rains did not seem to dampen the spirit of people. In fact, on Sunday there was better order on the roads and traffic flowed smoothly as most hawkers from Hill Road were removed and the BMC’s anti-encroachment drive trucks were stationed on the road. The civic body, however, said there was no special drive when contacted. “There was no special drive. The action taken is a frequent exercise against hawkers,” said Vinayak Vispute, assistant municipal commissioner of H / west ward. He did not share details of the action taken.