Shivajinagar in Bangalore, India is one of the busiest central bus stops that connects most areas throughout the city, surrounded by plenty of small shops and flea market stalls in the surrounding lanes. And St. Mary’s Basilica which is a stone’s throw away from the bus stop was the subject of a street photography session(Courtesy: Focus Bangalore) held over the weekend. This basilica is the oldest in the city, and was built along the lines of Gothic styled architecture with predominant arches, ornamental motifs and stained glass windows. The basilica is also the city’s most important destination for St. Mary’s Feast, celebrating the birth of Mother Mary for 10 days in September every year, culminating in a grand chariot procession on the last day, attended by over one lakh devotees. And for Christmas season, the small shops and bazaars were stocked with a plethora of exciting and colourful festive decorations that every passerby would glance at with awe.
I have been travelling through the same central stop for college for 4 years, yet the place seemed so unrecognizable. Not just with the colourful Christmas bazaars that had sprung up for festive sales. The area was still as crowded and choked with traffic, local auto drivers yelling routes and directions to motorists, loud honks, paan stained compound walls, potholed roads and hankering sellers. What had changed was the atmosphere in the market. Instead of the usual sale of grocery and goods that are picked up for oneself on any other normal day, the season’s festive sales did succeed in bringing people to shop for their families and loved ones apart from themselves. Or for their Christian friends celebrating the festival. The crowd just had to stop at these small shops on their way through the lanes, with its amazingly wide assortment of decorative goodies. What the festival brought in the most, was inexpressible joy in the eyes of the below poverty line families running these small bazaars for a living, while their innocent children continued to dust off toys and other accessories on display, thrilled with the shopping crowd and the sales. I put down my camera for a minute and stood on the street side, watching, sinking in the rare certain warmth and love which could only be experienced for real-the spirit of Christmas.