The fair at Mount Mary basilica is attended by lakhs of all faiths
MUMBAI: In perhaps the first time in living memory, the annual Bandra Fair held to celebrate the birthday of Mother Mary in September will not take place this year. The BMC has informed the Mount Mary basilica that its H-West ward will not make its usual arrangements for the week-long event, which is attended by lakhs of people of all faiths, owing to the state government’s ban on religious gatherings due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mount Mary basilica dates back to 1570 when the Jesuits first came to worship. The present church was built in 1904. The Bandra Fair is believed to be over 350 years old, with a 1669 document citing the instance of large celebrations where droves of pilgrims arrived by bullock carts.
Mount Mary could beam mass online
It is, however, not the first time that the Bandra Fair is being cancelled. During the Bombay plague in 1895, all festivals and events were cancelled in the city, including Ganeshotsav.
Bishop John Rodrigues said, “We received a letter from the civic authorities. The fair, therefore, will not be organised with regular stalls and entertainment. But the basilica will broadcast the mass online. If the guidelines over opening of religious places loosen in coming weeks, we will adapt to the situation.”
BJP MLA from Bandra West, Ashish Shelar said, “Restrictions need to be followed, but religious continuity should also be maintained.” Bandra corporator Asif Zakaria said, “I spoke to Bishop John. If the situation improves by September, maybe services on a limited scale could be allowed if the authorities permit.” Mount Mary has been closed to the public since March 25.