Friday, 20 July 2012

Still vibrant and keeping the traditions- Chapel Road, Bandra

Still vibrant and keeping the traditions alive

The East Indian community still exists!!

Dressed in their traditional garb and festooned with inherited ornamental jewelry, the East Indians of Chapel Road toddled along from the cross at the junction of Chapel Road and Waroda Road right up to Mt. Carmels Church Bandra on 3rd June, 2012.  
A tradition revived, members of the community marched along while the band played on. On reaching Mt. Carmels Church the rosary was recited and hymns sung in the traditional dialect after every decade. 

Post reciting the rosary, Fr. Leslie Malya warmly welcomed everyone and addressed everyone present. The band continued to play typical East Indian songs and few danced to their tune, while others enjoyed palms full of channa with some refreshing drink. The main aim was to bring the community together and address the various challenges they face like the increasing traffic and FSI with reference to goathans, amongst other issues. Some of the crumbling old homes down the road have now given way to buildings and there has been an influx of various communities. Hence there has been a calling to save what the community can, before it’s all lost to history.

Many East Indians are representatives of varied committees and associations, spread across Mumbai, Salsette, Thane and even Chaul and are striving to keep the rich culture and traditions still alive.

The East Indians community still exists; the community recently celebrated the 125th anniversary of the Bombay East Indian Association (BEIA) too. In his key note address, chief guest CM Prithviraj Chavan mentioned that he knew very little of the community, which was certainly a surprise to many but literally a calling for us to do much more.

The community today boasts of a mini museum at Manori which houses traditional East Indian kitchen ware and elegant crockery. The Mumbai Gaothan Panchayat (MGP) also held its second annual East Indian exhibition within the Irla Church premises on April 14, 2012 which hosted a number of East Indian household items along with some mouth watering delicacies. It also boasted of a display of the members who have done the community proud over the years. ‘Viva Queimada’ a book which traces the community’s roots along with the history of Bombay was also recently launched.

East Indians spread across Mudh Island, U.A.E or even Canada still come together and make merry either celebrating the Church Feast, harvest festival or just enjoying some delectable EI dishes.

Besides just meeting to celebrate over song, drink and dance it’s imperative that each one of us, plays an active role, do the community proud, support each other and preserve what we still have. 

With inputs from Vernon Barrow

Monday, 12 March 2012

37 Calvario Pali Hill Road Bandra W'

37 Calvario Pali Hill Road Bandra W'---- Calvary in Bandra
It’s nothing like you ever imagined, I wish that I could just see it through my Nana’s eyes in all its past glory and spectacle. An image she so dauntingly etched in our minds of a Chapel and a house nested within the topography of Bandra then. An image of different hues, a reflection of her thoughts and memories she so distinctively carved for us.  

Take the road leading to Pali hill and just opposite will spot a humongous building which has risen in the last three-four years. Just besides it lays Calvario with few century old trees and in its run down avatar.  
Referred to as the Chapel of Our Lady of Calvary, Pali Hill, Bandora, today in ruins and dilapidated, orphaned and abandoned, creepers surround its periphery, amidst a concrete forest all around. The shabby and run-down colored window panes enable you to peek into the once resounding haven. The wrecked stained glasses, shimmer in the streak of sun rays that glance past them reflecting a deserted an eerie feel.
From Rome with Love
A statue which stood at the foot of the hill, referred to as Our Lady of Sorrows was shipped by a family kin all the way from Rome. With love from Rome, the statue with its hands stretched ahead and looking towards heaven is one of its kinds.
During the period of Lent, Stations of the Cross would be enacted with everyone ascending to the top, just like they probably did at Mount Calvary around 2000 years ago.  Fourteen crosses dotted the way and were spread across the hill, some of them diagonally opposite and some just few steps ahead of the latter.
The statue now lies at the foot of St. Anne’s Church, Bandra while the fourteen crosses donated to a Church in Dongri also line the hill there leading to Our Lady of Bethlehem Church stations, Dongri. Tombstones once laden with a chronology of family history now probably lay buried beneath a mound of mud and debris. Thankfully those who have been laid to rest in the Chapel, their names and details have been noted.
Reliance Energy who regularly dispatched their electric bills, refer to the place as 37 Calvario Pali Hill Road Bandra W' and not Nargis Dutt Road as it is referred to now.
A plague detailed that, the Chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary Our Mother Of Mount Calvary was founded and endowed in 1890 by the very Rev. Manuel Anthony and Mr. Peter John sons of Gabriel and Joanna Fonseca of Parwar a village known up to 1850. His grace Dom Antonio Pedro da Costa declared it open on 17th September 1890.
The family who owned the holy turf now spread near, far and wide- have lovely memories of the place, just like my grandmother did. I am glad; I did get a chance to visit Calvario in Bandra and was able to capture many images of the place in its current despair.
My thoughts at least for the moment passively rest, an image of different hues sadly today no longer holds true.
………… part 1