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St. Mary's Basilica at Shivaji Nagar, Bangalore, Karnataka

Every year in September, Shivajinagar is thronged by people who visit the infamous St. Mary's Basilica. Built during the advent of Catholicism in the Kingdom of Mysore, this church is possibly the largest and most frequented in Bangalore. The birthday of St. Mary is celebrated in the Basilica on September 8.

Between August 28 and September, evening mass is held in the Basilica and a flag is unfurled which remains hoisted for the span of ten days. People are often spotted wearing pale pink clothes, called kaavi in southern languages. This is done in observance of a certain vow taken by the devotees. On the last day, the day of the feast, a grand chariot procession takes place, where the statue of Mary is placed on a pedestal. In other churches, the central statue's clothes are changed every day during this period.

People thronging at a chariot procession during St. Mary's Feast Image source: wikimedia commons

St. Mary's Basilica originally catered to the Tamil population that inhabited the Blackpally area in Bangalore and conducts most of its services in Tamil. Kannada and English services were introduced much later. Originally built as a chapel, it was converted into a large, gothic structure in 1874. It has a vaulted ceiling and Corinthian pillars, stained glass windows, and beautiful paintings. A white replica of Michelangelo's Pieta stands at the entrance of the church, similar to the one in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican, Rome.

Owing to the pandemic, in the last two years, the celebration of the feast has been held online, and the procession was not held in the city.

Keywords: Mary's feast, Basilica, September, Bangalore


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