Eat, pray, buy: 23 cheap thrills at the Bandra Fair
For seven days every year, the stretch from Carmel Church to Mount
Mary Steps in Bandra's Christian suburb is taken over by thousands of people and the hordes of weird and wonderful things on offer at Mumbai's Bandra Fair.
Held after the first Sunday of Mother Mary’s birthday, Mumbai's Bandra Fair began this week and runs until September 19.
Although the fair commemorates the nativity of the Virgin Mother, families from all religions and backgrounds queue up at the beautiful Mount Mary Church, built in the 16th century and at the stalls set up outside.There's music and food everywhere. Remo's "Bombay Meri Hai" can be heard over the strains of religious songs.
Snacks like kadio bodio (maida and sugar sticks) and mawa peda (a fudge-like sweet that melts in your mouth) and guava cheese (thick jellied slabs made of guava fruit) are those you wouldn't find on the average dessert tray.
Hawkers and their talking parrots
Bandra people are fond of narrating the tale of their neighborhood fair. It all began when a Koli fisherman found a statue of Mother Mary floating in the Arabian Sea. Nothing unusual about that? But they say he had a dream about the statue a few years before.
The fair isn't without controversy. This year, citizens' groups, backed by angry commuters, have been trying to get "illegal stalls" (read hawkers) removed.
But my visit on opening Sunday showed the fair's spirit has prevailed. People from all classes and religions have been celebrating Bandra this way for more than two centuries.
Right now the space in front of the upscale Salt Water Cafe has been taken over by people selling talking parrots.
You can't help but smile at the look of bewilderment on peoples' faces as they get out of their swanky cars, trying to figure out a way to get in for dinner.
Check out the photos for more of the color of the Bandra Fair.