‘Visakhapuri Mary Matha feast’ celebrates religious harmony

The idol of Mary Matha with infant Jesus being taken out in a grand procession to the Ross Hill Church in Visakhapatnam on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: C.V.Subrahmanyam

It was a celebration of communal harmony at the festival of ‘Immaculate Conception of Mother Mary’, popularly known as ‘Visakhapuri Mary Matha feast’, as devotees irrespective of their religious faiths thronged the Ross Hill Chapel on Sunday.

People from all walks of life offered their prayers at the chapel atop the Ross Hill in the Old Town area. Devotees, not only from the city and the neighbouring districts but also from Odisha and Chhattisgarh, made a beeline for the shrine from early morning on Sunday.

Elaborate arrangements were made to ensure the smooth functioning of the festival as thousands trekked the hillock to have a glimpse of Mother Mary.

After the holy mass in the morning , the idol of Mother Mary holding infant Jesus was taken out in a grand procession from St. Aloysius High School near the Old Post Office to the chapel atop the hill.

“This festival knows no religion the boundary. People from all religious faiths visit the chapel on this day every year to offer their prayers. The unique part of the festival is that volunteers from different communities come together to serve the visitors and devotees,” said A. Sebastain, a devotee.

Glorious past

Apart from being a tourist spot in Visakhapatnam, the Ross Hill Chapel is known for its history and scenic setting. The chapel on the ‘Ross Hill’, along with the Venkateswara temple on ‘Sringamani hillock’ and the Baba Ishq Madina Dargah on the Dargah Konda’ nearby, has been the symbol of religious harmony of Visakhapatnam.

As per the local history in the ‘Gazeeteer’, Monsieur Ross, a judge, built a house on the farthest part of the hill range in 1864. Two years later, the then Bishop J.M. Tissot acquired the bungalow. An altar was erected and consecrated as a chapel by the then Vicar General Fr. Richard on August 15, 1867.

Two major cyclones in 1870 and 1876 did considerable damage to the chapel. A new statue of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart was erected on the altar on May 1, 1877.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 2:56:14 PM |

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