Mount Mary’s Church in Bandra, Mumbai

Barely weeks into our Mumbai-living in the February of 2007, the pressures of settling down in a new city took its toll on me. I suffered a miscarriage. That was the second time I went through an MTP (Medical termination of Pregnancy). The first time was when I contacted chicken-pox in my first trimester, a year before this. Distraught and desperate to reclaim our lives, we went visiting Bandra sometime end Feb. We had been to Bandstand before. This time we wanted to check out Mount Mary’s Basilica.

Perhaps the Holy Mother had brought us here. One look at Her with Baby Jesus in her arms, and I was in my knees begging her for a baby that I could hold in my arms too. We have been bound to the Church from that day onwards. When Ridi came, we went to the Mother for thanksgiving. She smiled when I showed Her the child in my arms while we wept in gratitude. Ridi has grown up visiting it every other week, and quite fittingly, can do the rituals without any prompting – holy water followed by the prayers followed by buying candles from the sisters in the grounds and lighting them atop the stairs in front of Mother Mary opposite the Basilica.

For the first-timer, Mount Mary’s Basilica is on the hillock overlooking the sea in Bandra Bandstand. The Basilica’s foundation dates back to 1570! Over the centuries came the chapel, the shrines, the stained glass embellishments, the murals depicting the life of Mary. Its architecture is semi-Gothic with an imposing façade that lights up during festive times. Go in to see the beautiful altars always decorated with fresh flowers. Spend a little time admiring the detailing of the marble plaque on the main altar depicting the Last Supper and the murals lining the walls.

Every festive occasion, be it Christmas or Easters, the Church is flooded with people. Come September and it is Mount Mary’s Feast on the occasion of Mother Mary’s birthday. Lakhs throng here for Her blessings. If you have a wish, do not forget to buy an equivalent wax idol and candles to place at the feet of the Mother. For the believers, the Church offers hope and courage. Sit there for hours if you want, conversing with the Holy Mother or the Lord, and feel the elusive serenity descend on you.

A guide somewhere had once told us, “Na mano toh patthar hai, Mano toh bhagwan” – translated, it means, “If you don’t believe, it’s stone; if you do, it’s God”. Mount Mary’s Basilica is for both – the one who sees only a beautiful edifice and for the one too who sees the Divine in it.

– Deepa

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