It’s Bandra Fair time!

Bandra Fair
Bandra Fair

About It’s Bandra Fair time!

By Stacy Fernandes

It’s Bandra Fair time and all roads and gullies of the Queen of the Suburbs will soon lead to Bandra Fair, an annual week-long celebration held every year in the month of September. The fair is held to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, mother of Jesus. The celebrations start on the Sunday following September 8.

The fair is an age-old tradition, it started when the statue of Mother Mary was found floating in the sea. The fishermen found the statue in the sea and placed Mother Mary in St Andrew’s Church Bandra. After Mount Mary Church was built, this statue was moved to the main altar at the Mount. The fair and feast go back over a hundred years. In the earlier days, the shrine was visited by devotees from all over the city. They would come on fancy recklas (bullock carts) or by ferry to the church. And after completing their spiritual obligations, they would go down the slope to enjoy the fair.

The Feast of Our Lady is celebrated over an Octave or an eight-day period. The celebrations are preceded by a nine-day novena held before the feast. It is done in thanksgiving and veneration of Our Lady, after which the week-long fair starts. The fair attracts thousands of people every year from all over the city.

In the initial days, the fair had numerous stalls selling various items like pottery, toys, sweets, items made of cane, religious items and much more. Some of the attractions were House of Laughing Mirrors, Photobooths with cardboard cuttings, Dog Shows and Well of Death, amongst the few rides. There used to be an annual dance held at the hall of Mount Carmel’s, followed by a jam session. But over the years, the essence of Bandra Fair has changed making it more commercial. Though the fair had humble beginnings, it didn’t stay that way. Houses have also given their compounds for giant wheels or merry-go-rounds, making it commercial. The stalls on the road are auctioned by the municipality and they are given to the highest bidders,” says Joseph Pereira, 69, a resident of Bandra.

Even though the fair has drastically changed over a period of time, there are some regular visitors, who are from all faiths. Like 60-year-old Nargis Chaudhary who says: “I do the novenas every year faithfully and visit the fair with my friends and family. This hasn’t changed I still visit the fair on the first Sunday of the feast, after that it is a grand fiesta at a friend’s house.” Families come from all over to enjoy the excitement of the fair. The fair is much awaited by the youth as they enjoy all the rides laughing and screaming. The fair becomes a social gathering for parents and children as they all meet and have a jolly time.

People who visit Mount Mary’s Church (Goodluck café near Mehboob studio, then take a left) then walk down the eastern steps towards the fair, buying toys, sweets and sitting on rides on their way to September Garden (grounds of St. Aloysius School, Bandra). Nowadays, the fair is all about the various rides – Ferris wheel, Tora-Tora, Dashing Cups, etc and stalls that sell plastic toys or jewellery.

“The preparation for the fair starts two months in advance. A team of people come together before the feast to plan out the settings of stalls and rides at September Garden” says Fr. Reuben Tellis Parish Priest of Mount Carmel’s Church. The stalls are open to vendors from all walks of life to sell their goods on the road or at stalls in September Garden.

September Garden is the tail end of the fair, it has a few stalls that sell food and traditional sweets like Kadio-Bodios (a Goan sweet made of besan and infused in sugar syrup), Aam Papad and Halwa. The Garden also has rides to keep children occupied while parents stop to buy souvenirs.

This year, the Mount Mary Fair, also known as the Bandra Fair, starts on September 9 and ends on September 16, 2018.

image on homepage: 123rf

Posted on Sep 04, 2018

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Bandra Fair is an annual week-long celebration held every year in the month of September. The fair is held to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, mother of Jesus. The celebrations start on the Sunday following September 8. The fair is an age-old tradition, it started when the statue of Mother Mary was found floating in the sea.

Location: Bandra West, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

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