|By Alban D'Souza – Udyavara [ Published Date: September 8, 2013 ]|
Montifest is a major festival among the Christians (Catholics) of Konkani speaking people from Mangalore, Goa,Mumbai , Vasai residing in west coat of India. It is celebrated on September 8 every year. It is very popular feast around the world by Catholic Konkans as Monti fest or Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary or simply the Birthday of Mary Mother of God.
The festival derives its name from the Monte Mariano Monastery (Church) of Capuchin priests at Farangipet in Mangalore (South Kanara) and was initiated by Fr. Joachim Miranda, a Goan Catholic priest at Farangipet in 1763. So during the course of time the feast spread to other regions like Goa, Mumba,Vasai (mostly west coast of India) in spite of difficulties, but overcame all through the blessing of Mother Mary. And today it is spread all over the world due to many Konkani Catholics living in various countries of the world. It is really amazing that all konkans unite in one umbrella with one spirit and zeal to celebrate this great festival of Monti fest and to honor our Mother Mary as Heavenly mother of God.
It is said in the Bible (New Testament-apocryphal Gospel of James) that Mary was born to Saint Jochim and Saint Anne. Mary was given in to service as a consecrated Virgin in the temple in Jerusalem when she was small child, much like Hannah took Samuel to the Tabernacle as recorded in the Old Testament. Mary was chosen by God long ago to be the mother of the Messiah who has to come for the salvation of the whole world, as great Prophet Isaiah Predicted in the Old Testament, which is came true through Mary.
God chose Mary that His son Jesus Christ the savior of the World to be born to Mary. So she the mother of Jesus the son of God. Mary had a big role in God’s plan of salvation to redeem the world from slavery and sin and death. Mary was born like any one of us but with a difference. She was born without the original sin as she was to bear the son of God who is all Holy “there fore the child to be born will be Holy, he will be called son of God (Lk 1:35). Also a human Mary faced the trials of life but with a cheer. At the cross, Jesus gave us this mother to be the mother of all mankind and it is at that very moment that Mary became our mother.
Every Mangalorean Catholic is familiar with the tradition that forms the basis of this feast. It is a feast that is given the utmost importance in every catholic household. The tradition has been carried to foreign shores and celebrated with the same splendour by Mangalorean Catholics worldwide. It is a harvest feast for the whole family where the day begins with mass with children and devotees adorning the statue of our Lady with flowers. Prior to the solemn mass, there is a procession of the parishes from a certain destination to the respective churches.
Monti fest is also celebrated as Harvest festival or Novem chevnche(New Crops). Faithful people give thanks to God the giver and provider of new harvests or crops , so during the mass in the church the Novem (New Crops) will be blessed by the priest and distributed to all the faithful, then in turn they take home this new blessed crops (kanas) and put this (tandul from the kanas) in the food (Vorn/Kheer/Roce) –a sweet item by the head of the family with the prayers and have meal with many variety of vegetables as one united Christian family. This meal is a very special one to the entire family because it is the new harvest for the year.
Monti fest is special for the children. Children with joyfulness gather flowers around the region for the offering to Mother Mary every day during the novena ,because there are eight days of novena prayers before celebrating the feast on the 9th day. So all the children of the families bring different kind of flowers in the basket to the church & then offer and shower it on the statue of the blessed Mary after the mass. So there is a significant preparation for the feast. The church priests conduct a procession on the feast day to venerate and respect Mother Mary. Also after the Celebration in the church, children will be given sweets/sugarcane, to cheer up the children.
Since, as Catholics that we believe and worship Jesus Christ as the son of God and born of Mother Mary, then we should also give our attention to His dear mother . It was because of her “YES” to God’s plan of salvation today we have her son Jesus. The world would have been destroyed long ago but Mary sustained it by her powerful intercession. As Mary lived a life of love and commitment let us also try to live for others, praying for others and the world for its conversion.
Mary is always ready to help and hear her children who devotedly pray her Rosary. If we want to save ourselves and others from the fires of hell then we should seek the intercession of Mother Mary. So let us seek the intercession of our heavenly Mother in all that we do and she will never let us down, let us turn to Mary who will always comfort us. The new Testament account of Mary’s humility and obedience to the message of God has made her and exemplar for all ages of Christians.
Wishing everyone a very Happy Monti fest 2013.