If you want to experience the cultural mosaic of India, head down to Russell Market near Commercial Street. You’ll find Muslims, Hindus and Christians living and worshipping all within a block of each other…peacefully.
Yesterday, I went down to Commercial Street to exchange some curtains (fourth trip),and yes they are the right size this time, and the color is ok too. Luckily I love this area for shopping and people watching. Within two blocks there are at least two mosques, multiple hindu temples and St. Mary’s Basillica.
It’s such an exotic area – the muslim women wear the full burka and everyone else wears sarees (the ladies that is). Yesterday I could sense something exciting was going on – the streets were packed and the area around Russell Market was blocked off from vehicles.
Families wore their best clothes, women wore flower garlands in their hair, loud Indian music was blaring from loudspeakers and streetsellers sold balloons, shiny pinwheels and flutes. As it turned out this was the final day of the Feast of St. Mary.
It’s been quite the month for religious celebrations. The Hindus had 11 days of Ganesh Chaturthi, the Muslims are in the midst of ramzan (ramadan), and this was the tenth day of the Feast of St. Mary celebrations.
Statues of St. Mary were erected all around the area, some adorned with flowers, others standing admidst waterfalls. People gave offerings and said individual prayers. It was chaotic, noisy, festive and crowded. Just another day in India.
Apparently the real festivities started that evening when 2 lakh, or 200,000 people descended on the area. A chariot with the image of Mother Mary was taken in a procession around the downtown streets and everyone followed, ending up at St. Mary’s Basillica.