Infant Jesus Shrine
At the shrine, the tradition is to light candles, usually bought from the stalls outside or within the church premises. Garlands offered to the deity are almost immediately taken off to be resold. As soon as a candle is lit and placed on a stand, a church volunteer (there are 120 of them on a Thursday) picks it up, douses the flame, and tosses it into a large basin to make space for others. These candles are melted, recycled and resold from the church stalls. Every Thursday, around 120,000 candles are lit.
The church started as a small tent in 1971 in what used to be a rose garden. There are stories about its early magical powers—especially on Thursdays. Seventy-one-year-old Vedha, who has been visiting the shrine for 37 years, says: “There was a tent with a statue of Infant Jesus and it began to rain. It was a Thursday and the disciples sat praying and though the tent was leaking and everybody was getting drenched, there was not a drop on the statue.”
The church, which has 28,000 members, sees about 10,000 people walking in every Thursday, including celebrities like Kannada actors Shivrajkumar and Aindrita Ray, who prefer the late hours to avoid crowds.