Flag-hoisting marks Day One of St Mary's feast
The annual nine-day prayers, preceding the feast of St Mary on September 8, began at the St Mary Basilica in Shivajinagar with the hoisting of the flag of Mother Mary on Thursday.
Thousands of devotees from across the City and different parts of the State converged on the 130-year-old church to witness the flag-hoisting ceremony. People belonging to other faiths, too, joined the prayer services.
Devotees, many clad in the traditional kaavi (saffron) clothes, were seen offering prayers by lighting candles at the shrine. A devotee from Puducherry said she never failed to attend the feast every year.
“We prepare for the feast by observing novena (nine-day prayers), where people come and offer prayers. The feast is also considered special because devotees of Mother Mary offer help to the poor and needy,” said Fr Sandhyagu, the assistant parish priest of the church.
Parish priest Fr John Rose said the church authorities had ensured proper arrangements were in place so that no devotee faced any kind of trouble. “We have set up around 20 closed-circuit television cameras around the shrine to monitor the situation closely so that there are no hassles,” he said.
He said accommodation would be provided to devotees who come from outside the City at the church-run St Xavier High School in Shivajinagar.
Police personnel have been put on a round-the-clock vigil.
Meanwhile, traffic was thrown out of gear in around Shivajinagar on Thursday. Heavy vehicles entering the area were diverted to various other routes.