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St. Blaise Church Feast Fete

Monday, February 13, 2012

St Blaise Church is located on the St Blaise Road, formerly known as Ceaser Road, which is off the SV Road in Amboli. The church is equidistant from both Andheri and Jogeshwari railway stations on the Western Railway Line.
St Blaise Church was established somewhere between 1585 and 1589. According to the parish website, a certain Fr Paulo da Trinidale is reported to have documented that in 1630, the parish of St Blaise comprised Irlem (Irla), Parlem (Parle), Vessana (Versova), Megrem (Mogra), Andherem (Andheri), and Juvem (Juhu). The number of Catholics then was 1637 adults and 400 children. Today the parish strength is 14000 and rising.
Blaise was born in a rich Christian family and studied to be a physician. Because of his virtuous conduct, he was nominated to be a bishop by the clergy and people of Sebaste, in Armenia. But when the persecution of Christians began, Bishop Blaise had to flee for his life and take shelter in the hills.

St. Blaise Church
The persecutors discovered a cave in the hill, where Bishop Blaise was catering to the wounds of the wild animals there. Bishop Blaise was tortured and imprisoned because he refused to renounce his Christian faith.

Many ill and ailing people were bought to him to be healed. A woman had bought her son to him, as he had swallowed a fish bone and was choking. Bishop Blaise prayed over him and he was healed.
The church venerated St. Blaise as the patron saint of wild animals and those suffering from throat ailments. A nine day Novena is practiced before celebrating the feast on February 3 each year. The following Sunday is celebrated with pomp and gaiety. The priest holds two blessed candles and blesses the throats of the devotees that day. This is done in all parishes.
St Blaise was martyred in 316 AD during the rule of Emperor Licinius. You can refer to the church website for more information on St Blaise Church.
Aaron and Ryan in their masks
Meanwhile, let me take you to the fete that was organised as part of the feast celebrations. Having attended the 9 am mass, I planned to take my nephews, Aaron and Ryan, for the feast in the evening. The most important thing to do was to seek the permission of their mother. Once permission was granted, I told the two boys.

They were very excited even though neither had the faintest idea about what a fete is. The gates to the fete opened at 7 pm. We landed there at 7:15 pm. The Church premises were beautifully decorated. A stage was set up in one corner. The trees were lit up. All of it added to the ambience and increased our expectations of having a good time.
A few stalls were set up to cater to the stomach. These were food stalls serving Goan, Manglorean and East Indian delicacies.

In the Fete
As we entered, Aaron and Ryan were given eye masks to be used for a fun game to held later in the evening. Both wore their masks and were all set for the game. Bring it on.

As the crowd gathered, the comperes kickstarted the evening’s festivities by introducing themselves. They asked the children to head over to the balloon counter to collect their balloons. Ryan got all excited and immediately got his balloon. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to hold on to it and it wriggled out of his fingers and went off flying up in the air. The poor boy was all in tears when he saw balloon take off like that. I felt really bad for him.
But soon after the comperes made an announcement about a tattoo artist. That bought a smile on the faces of the boys. Ryan forgot about his balloon and got excited about getting a tattoo done. This is the best thing about kids. They forget so easily. I wish we grownups had the same ability to forget. Life would be so much better.  
The Last Supper above the Church
But the tattoo artist hadn’t come in yet, and the boys, eagerly waiting for him, began to get fidgety. I hoped that he would show up soon.
Meanwhile, the masks were put to use. The masks were coloured gold, silver, pink, red and purple. People with similar masks were asked to gather together. The kids had a great time mingling among themselves. After the groups were formed, they were asked to chant, “Wish you a Happy Feast.” Guess what? My nephews’ groups were the loudest. Eeeeehhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaa.
All the balloons were collected and were tied together and released in the air to kickstart the event.
A few telematches were held. These included threading the most number of needles in two minutes time, building a cup castle and throwing table tennis balls in a bucket while being blindfolded.

Performance by Senior Citizens

A group of four danced to some hip hop numbers. These kids were very good and I liked their performances.
There was a group of senior citizens who sang and danced to some local folk songs. It was nice to see them. They put up quite a show and quickly became the favourite of the crowd.

The tattoo artist arrived and Ryan badly wanted a tattoo done. I counted the number of children standing in line. There were 25 in all. I somehow managed to convince him to enjoy the performances first, and get the tattoo later. But you know how children are? I want means I want. For that matter, that is the case with adults too.
Later there were dance performances by groups dressed as Gujaratis, South Indians, lavni dancers and Punjabis. There was a nice sight to see too.
I asked the boys if they were interested in eating but they were so busy with the activities on stage that they just drank Frooti and ran off to see the performances. I couldn’t get a chance to taste the food as most of the snacks were over. Only whole meals were left. I didn’t want to take any chances as I was managing my nephews so I let go of the idea of dining. But we had a great time nonetheless.


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