Here's why Mumbaikars will miss Bandra Fair this year amid COVID-19

By Sunny Rodricks

Come September and Mumbaikars throng to Bandra for the annual Mount Mary fair, which is also popularly called as the Bandra Fair. The annual Bandra Fair festival marks the birth of Mother Mary and traditionally begins from the first Sunday after September 8.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year, the Bandra Fair is not being held.

The annual Bandra Fair festival, which is a week-long affair, is a 300-year-old event that attracts over 10 lakh visitors every year.

The Mount Mary Church, which dates back to the 1550s, has over the course of years become a symbol of Mumbai’s cosmopolitan fabric. People across caste, creed, religion and status visit the Mount Mary Church and the annual fair.

In photo: People snapped buying goodies during the annual Bandra Fair in September.

Did you know the Western Railway and Central India Railway Company used to run special trains for the Bandra Fair? As the Bandra fair gained popularity among people of all faiths, the company ran two trains in the morning and evening from Colaba and back.

Besides the railways, even the Bandra Bus Company, started by FM Chinoy, ran buses till 1949 for the annual fair.

The festival and shops around the church paint a carnival-like atmosphere with the streets abuzz with shopping stalls, food stalls, street events, games, amusement rides and concerts among others.

Talking about the annual Bandra fair festival, historian Dr Mariam Dossal had told mid-day, "This church represents a lot not just for the Christians of Bombay, but for all communities in the city. The ability to keep celebrating the spirit of Bombay is to realise how enriching our differences are. You didn't label people. If there's a lesson in the Bandra fair, it is that the mother opens her arms to everybody."

The Bandra Fair or the'Mount Mary fair is a week-long fair held annually in Bandra and usually takes place within the Mount Mary Church complex and in the bylanes around the church.

In photo: A young boy plays with a bubble gun toy at the fair.

For the first time, this year the nine-day novena of Our Lady of the Mount was also hosted online with masses being held only once a day.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the Archdiocese of Bombay Cardinal Oswald Gracias had exempted Catholic faithful from attending Sunday Mass at Church till March 31 in order to minimise large gatherings of people and social contact.

In photo: Colourful candles on sale at a shop outside Mount Mary Church in Bandra.

In photo: People buy sweets and other goodies during the annual fair.

In photo: A throwback picture shows a young girl posing for a selfie as she enjoys her time at the annual Bandra Fair at Mount Mary Church in Bandra.

About the Gallery

Every year, September is marked with grand celebration of the annual Bandra Fair, marking the birthday of Mother Mary. However, this year the Bandra Fair festival will not be organised due to the COVID-19 crisis. Here's a look at throwback pictures of the popular 'Bandra Fair' from the previous years.

(All photos/mid-day photographers)

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