Mumbai’s Mount Mary Fair or Bandra Fair is an 8 day festival of prayer, pilgrimage and fun at the Mount Mary Church. There is a carnival atmosphere in and around the Mount Mary church during the Bandra Fair with street stalls, road side bazaars, rides, concerts, plays, food festivals and street events. According to estimates, 1 million people visit The Mount Mary Festival.
Location of Mount Mary Fair
The Bandra Fair is centered around the “Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount”, popularly known as “Mount Mary Church”, which is on Mount Mary Road, Bandra West, Bombay. Mount Mary Church can be reached either by local BEST Bus (214, 211, 86, 212, 215), taxi, auto rickshaw or walking. Here is further information on how to reach the Church and Bandra Fair.
During the fair, there are numerous stalls from Mount Mary Church Steps to Mount Carmel Church along St John the Baptist Road, Chapel Road and Rebello Road. In 2012, the BMC has given permission to set up 430 temporary stalls. Stalls are allowed on Kane Road and Mount Mary Road, but these stalls sell only religious goods.
When is the Bandra Fair 2012?
In 2012 the Mount Mary Fair starts on 9 September, 2012 and ends on 16 September, 2012. Every year, the eight day Mount Mary Festival starts on the Sunday after 8 September. In 2013, the Bandra Fair will start on 8 September, 2013.
The significance of 8 September is that it is the Birthday of Mother Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. Bandra Fair is a celebration of the annual Feast of “Our Lady of the Mount“.
After the 8 day celebrations, there is a further nine day “Novena” of prayer for the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Events at the 2012 Bandra Mount Mary Fair
- On Saturday, 8 September, 2012, Mass for Mother Mary’s birthday will be held at 5:30 am, 6:15 am, 7:00 am, 7:45 am, 8:30 am, 9:15 am, 10:00 am, 5:30 pm, 6:30 pm, 7:30 pm.
- On Sunday, 9 and 16 September, 2012, Mass will be held at 5:30 am, 6:15 am, 7:00 am, 7:45 am, 8:30 am, 9:15 am, 10:00 am, 10:45 am, 11:30 am, 12:30 pm.
- From Monday, 10 September to Saturday 15 September, mass will be held from 5:30 am, 7:00 am, 7:45 am, 8:30 am, 9:15 am, 10:00 am, 10:45 am. Mount Mary Church will be open from 5:30 am to 10:30 pm. Special mass will also be held for the sick (10 Sep, 10:45 am), in Marathi (12 Sep, 11:30am), in Tamil (13 Sep, 11:30 am), in Malayalam (14 Sep, 11:30 am), in Gujarati (15 Sep, 11:30 am).
- Street Stalls: The main stalls and festivities of the Bandra Fair can be found after descending the stairs on the East of the church. At the end of the steps, the stalls continue through John the Baptist Road to Mount Carmel’s Church, Chapel Road and Rebello Road. After a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in Bombay High Court, the number of stalls on Mount Mary Church steps in 2012 has been reduced to 40 from 80. The first 20 spaces will be auctioned to the highest bidder. In all 430 temporary stalls will be available for Bandra Fair 2012.
- Food: Savor food items such as Vindaloo, Kadio Bodio (Flour and sugar sticks), Black Dodol (Goan sweet), Homemade Cakes (Plum, dates, wine, walnut), Sorpotel, Fuggias, Sausages, Mawa Pedhas, Omelettes, Guava Cheese,
- Enjoy the fair rides (giant wheels, merry-go-round, carousals, toy train, etc). Kids will enjoy jumping on Trampolines and playing with toys.
In 2012, the BMC has not given permission for stalls at Rebello Road playground, Mount Carmel Church, St Anthony’s Old Age Home.
Why is the Mount Mary Bandra Fair celebrated?
- The Bandra Fair is a celebration of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. The Nativity (Birth) of the Blessed Virgin Mother Mary is on 8 September.
- The main reason people come for the Mount Mary Festival is to offer their thanks to Virgin Mary and to pray for their wishes to be fulfilled. Devotees have a strong belief that their wishes will be granted by Mother Mary.
- The wonderful thing about the Mount Mary Church is that not just Christians, but people of all faiths come here to pray. It is estimated that ratio of non-Christians devotees to Christian devotees offering prayers at Mount Mary Church during Bandra Fair is 2:1. Such is the enormous appeal of Mother Mary among people of all religions.
- The other key reason for visiting the Bandra Fair is to enjoy the carnival of street food, street events, street shopping, plays, concerts, playground rides, etc. It’s an enjoyable family outing.
- The Mount Mary Bandra Fair has been celebrated for over 300 years.
Mount Mary Church in Bandra, Mumbai
- The “Mount Mary Basilica”, also known as “Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount”, “Mount Mary Church” and “Maulicha Dongar” (Hill of the Mother in Marathi), is situated on a hill in Bandra. The beautiful church has a lovely view of the Arabian Sea.
- The centerpiece of the Bandra Mount Mary Church (“Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount”) is a stunning statue of Mother Mary holding baby Jesus. There is a seven step marble alter that leads up to the wooden statue. This Virgin Mary status or Marian Shrine is also referred to as “Our Lady of the Mount” or “Moti Mauli” (“Pearl Mother”) in Marathi. According to legend, the original Mount Mary status was brought to India in the 16th century by the Portuguese. In 1700, the Blessed Mother statue was desecrated and stolen by pirates. A Koli fisherman dreamed that the statue would be found floating in the sea; and sure enough, the statue was discovered in the Arabian Sea and restored.
- The present day Mount Mary’s Basilica or Mount Mary Church was designed by architect Shapoorjee Chandabhoy. The foundation stone was laid on 11 May, 1902. The four storied Mount Mary Church is 38 feet in width, 110 feet in length and it has 2 towers with pyramidical spires topped with Crosses. The central nave is made of stone and there are beautiful murals all around the interior of the Basilica. The 42 foot high ceiling is made of teak wood. As with many buildings in Mumbai around the late 19th century and early 20th century (VT Station, BMC HQ, etc) there are elements of Gothic architecture.
- The Vatican declared the Mount Mary Church as Basilica in 1954. A Basilica is a higher title than a church. Pope John Paul II visited the Mount Mary Basilica in 1986.
Attractions Around Mount Mary Church
There are many interesting sightseeing attractions around Mount Mary Church.
- Shahrukh Khan’s House “Mannat” is less than half a kilometer away. Salman Khan’s home at Galaxy apartment is 1.5 km away.
- Beautiful Bandra Bandstand with it’s lovely garden along the sea face is 0.5 km away.
- The areas of Mount Mary Road, Bandra Bandstand and Bandra are home to many Hindi movie stars.
- Bandra Fort at Bandra Land’s End. The Bandra Fort has been featured in many movies. The view of the sea on the Worli Sea Link is enchanting.
The Mount Mary Church is on Mount Mary Road in Bandra West. Mount Mary Church is the biggest landmark in this area. Other landmarks are Hill Road and Bandra Bandstand. One can reach there by the following ways:
- BEST Bus numbers 214 from Bandra Station West to Mount Mary Steps. Alternately, Bus Number 211 from Bandra Station to Bandra Bandstand, from where it is a short walk to the Basilica via Cement Road. It’s easy to find Cement Road because Shahrukh Khan’s home “Mannat” is adjoining to this road. In addition Bus number 86, 211, 212, 214, 215 stop at Holy Family Hospital on Hill Road, which is a short walk from Mount Mary Church.
- Auto Rickshaw and Taxis. They will leave you at a short distance and you will have to walk up to the church.
- Try to avoid coming to Bandra Fair in your auto vehicle, but if you do parking is allowed on Band Stand Road (Behramji Jeejeebhoy Road), H K Bhaba Road, Supari Tank Road, around Hill Road, Perry Road, Carter Road.
Road Restrictions During Bandra Fair 2012
For the duration of the 2012 Bandra Fair, the following roads are “No Entry Zones”
- Mount Mary Road
- Saint John The Baptist Road
- Chapel Road
- Kane Road,
- Robello Road
- Cement Road (adjoining Shahrukh Khan’s home, “Mannat“). Although Mumbai Police had initially barricaded this road, they have reopened it for pedestrians. This makes it convenient for those visitors coming by BEST Bus Bumber 211.
In order to identify vehicles of local residents living in the vicinity of these roads, the Bandra Police Station is issuing special passes for residents, so that they can enter the “No Entry Zones”.
If lucky, visitors to Bandra West can find parking at Band Stand Road (Byramji Jeejeebhoy Road), H K Bhaba Road, Supari Tank Road, on and around the lanes of Hill Road, Perry Road and Carter Road.
Precaution for the Mount Mary Fair
- Expect large crowds. If you plan to pay your respects at Mount Mary Church, expect to stand in a long queues. The first day of Bandra Fair had 100,000 visitors.
- Expect to be jostled at the fair. Also expect to wait in line.
- Expect traffic chaos at Mount Mary Church, Bandstand and Bandra. If you are not visiting the Bandra Fair, you may want to avoid this area during the Fair.
- Parking a vehicle near Mount Mary will be extremely difficult. It may also not be safe.
- Based on articles in local papers, it seems the risk from fire has not been adequately covered.
- There will be many beggars trying to gain your attention and money.
- Expect garbage to pile up, especially near food stalls. This may invite stray dogs.
- Because of the large crowds, expect things to be chaotic around the church and in Bandra. Do take special care of your children and belongings.
- Expect politicians to gain political mileage from the Bandra Fair. Expect to see many ugly political banners and hoardings.