Gundala Matha Shrine, or Mary Matha Shrine, known popularly as St Mary’s Church, is constructed on a hilly region Gunadala in Krishna district near Vijayawada. An iron cross, erected atop the hill, stands as a rare distinction of the shrine.
Annual Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes attracts many devotees and is celebrated with much enthusiasm and devotion. Many believers throng to this place during Sundays and important occasions.
A museum inside the church is another attraction, with collection of valuable gifts from devotees and holy relics of ancient period.
The rush of devotees at Gunadala Matha shrine picked up from the early hours of the second day of the three-day ‘Gunadala Matha Festival’ on Feb 9,10,11. Pilgrims arriving from far off places by buses and trains began reaching the campus of Bishop Grassi High School from the early hours and the rush continued till late in the night.
The roads leading to Gunadala throbbed with much activity, while the shrine as well as the hillock witnessed huge crowds.
After getting their heads tonsured and breaking coconuts at the shrine, the devotees lined up to the grotto on the hillock to light candles.
Special prayers were conducted at the makeshift dais on the playground of the high school, where people in large numbers attended. Pastors of different churches from various parts of the State participated in the prayers. Religion-based cultural programmes were performed for the public. The devotees had to move only in one direction on the way to the grotto, with the steps en route having been barricaded completely. Many couples brought their infants to the grotto and offered prayers.
Outside the shrine, roads teemed with the crowds even as pretty vendors tried to find space to move from one end to the other to make some quick business. As the police imposed restrictions on the setting up of stalls on the road margins, vendors turned mobile.
Makeshift photo studios, a special attraction of the festival every year, did brisk business on the second day. For just Rs.20, one could get photographed ‘along with’ their favourite film stars or ‘riding’ a latest model car, courtesy the lively cut-outs as backdrop.
As the healing prayers were scheduled for Thursday along with the valedictory of the three-day festival, the shrine authorities and the police are expecting huge rush from Wednesday midnight onwards and have accordingly made arrangements.
Bishop of Vijayawada diocese Malllavarapu Prakash will inaugurate the three day Gunadala Matha Fast 2006 at Gunadala shrine on February 9.
During the three days on the sprawling Bishop Grassi High School grounds, while special prayers will be offered at the grotto atop the hillock.
Gunadala Matha Festival was successfull , more than 10 Lakh devoties attended this festival and everything went on well without any problem. Of those 10 Lakhs only 60% were Catholics means 4 lakh remaining people are mixed people from different religions ( Hindus, Muslims) and ofcourse Protestants.
Festival started with Holy mass on 9th Feb at 6.30 AM and around 8.30 AM Adoration Started and ended on 11th Feb late night.
Many Religious ( Sisters , Priests, Decons, Brothers, Seminary & Convent students) , General devoties from Vijayawada and other parts of AP also took part in this Adoration along with Jesus Youth of Vijayawada Diocese.