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Nothing pet-ty about it

The St Ignatius Church at Jacob Circle has witnessed countless number of people seeking blessings at its altar. However, yesterday was a special day as not only humans but animals too received divine blessings.

Two parrots engage the attention of curious onlookers
Chirp chirp: Two parrots engage the attention of curious onlookers

It was pet blessing day at the church and devout Christians from all over the city came, pets in tow. Father Joe D’Souza officiated the ceremony as dogs, cats, parrots, fishes and turtles mingled happily.

Cats, dogs, parrots and a turtle come together for blessings as Father Joe D'Souza conducts the ceremony.
All for one: Cats, dogs, parrots and a turtle come together for blessings as Father Joe D'Souza conducts the ceremony. Pic/Neha Parekh

The air of bonhomie was so strong that when one of the dogs tried to climb over a woman standing nearby, she simply laughed it off. As Francis M Rodericks, the owner of 5-year-old Persian cat Mooshi put it, “We have been coming every year for the past five years or so to get our pets blessed. Pets from different parts of Mumbai come for the ceremony, and they are all happy to see each other.”

Shirley John Mascarenhas shows off her pet Singaporean turtle Shono
Best friends: Shirley John Mascarenhas shows off her pet Singaporean turtle Shono

Explaining the reasoning behind this initiative, Fr D’Souza said, “I have conducted this practice for the past 15 years in whichever church I have been in, because I believe that these creatures are also God’s creations and they too need His blessings. I do this in October because on October 4, we celebrate the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, the saint of the environment. But since that is a weekday and it won’t be possible for everyone to come, I organise this on the first Sunday of October every year.”

 A dog surveys the church
Pew cue: A dog surveys the church

While there were several of the usual suspects of the feline and canine variety at the event, there were a few unusual attendees too. One devotee brought her parrot, while Shirley John Mascarenhas, an 18-year-old resident of Lower Parel, accompanied her pet Singaporean turtle.

A parrot and its owner share a special moment.
A kiss of love: A parrot and its owner share a special moment. Pics/Bipin Kokate

“His name is Shono, he is three-and-half years old,” she explains, taking him out of his basket for a cuddle. She points to two others, “They are Snuffy and Tuffy. They belong to my two younger sisters. All of us love pets. We have fishes too and our cousins have dogs. All of us come every year to get our pets blessed.” 

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