Calgary, Alberta celebrates Nativity Feast on Sept 11th
Over 150 South Asian and specially Mangalorean origin people living in Calgary celebrated the much-loved event ‘Nativity – Monti Fest’ on 11th September 2016 at St Thomas More Church, NE, Calgary, Alberta.
The main celebrant for the mas was Fr John Pinto, OCD and other priests who concelebrated mass were Fr Godwin Pinto, OCDof St Thomas More parish, Fr Vijay Martin OCD, Assistant pastor of St Mark’s Parish, and Fr William Monis of Assistant pastor of Bonaventure Parish. Deacon Norman Dumais and Deacon Vivian Pinto assisted the mass as well.
The celebration began with the procession of Mary’s statue to the church with singing “SokkodSangathaMelliam”..’
During the homily, Fr Godwin Pinto emphasized Mary’s lowliness and Mary’s immaculate conception. His whole homily was in Konkani making the event relevant for the day:
The choir was led by Wilson Miranda , Danica Mendonca, Jerry/Natasha Rodrigues, Antony Tauro, Anita Moras, Steven Lobo, Anita Fernandes, Jane D’Souza, Albert Michael, Sunitha D’Cunha, Jasmine D’Souza and Lydia Pinto. The Konkani choir and music added to the solemnity of the occasion.
As per tradition children and grown-ups carried flowers in procession to the statute of our Lady followed by a blessed harvest or novem. During the mass, Novem was blessed by Fr Willaim Monis.
After the mass, the crowd gathered at the parish hall to participate in “Novem Jevchem”, cultural programs and entertainment.
Prior to consumption of Novem (vorn) Fr John Pinto said a prayer and blessed Novem for consumption and facilitated the whole event.
The crowd was welcomed to the hall by Alistair Moras for the event. We had also a special guest, Most senior person in our community William Andrade who celebrated his 100th birthday in January this year.
Danica Mendonca highlighted the meaning of Harvest Festival and Family Feast. She noted: “Monti fest festival celebrates the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and in the Mangalorean Catholic Community involves blessing of Novem (new crops). The festival celebrates the first crop of the year and like other harvest festivals in India like Onam (Kerala) Pongal (Tamil Nadu) Lhori (Punjab) etc. Along with the paddy, sugarcane is also given as a reminder of new life, Christ who is to come. She also noted “To a certain extent the food is prepared is surprisingly ‘vegetarian’ and concluded saying the food is served on a banana leaf and at the end of lunch, a sweet dish is served (vorn- made of jaggery, daal (lentils), coconut and novem and garnished with cardamom. It is here where the Novem is added”.
This year’s highlight of the evening was the skit written and directed by Craig Martis on Our Lady of Guadalupe. Craig and his team put the great effort from recording, staging to presenting the show. It was incredible how he took it upon himself leading the front in organizing the skit. It was so beautiful and artistic how everyone came together and performed as one single unit seamlessly !wow! Teamwork also is seen in stitching all costumes inhouse which were undertaken by Dorothy Fernandes and team.
Here is the background of the story of this skit : In Mexico in Central America there once lived a people known as the Aztecs who would frequently offer blood and human sacrifice to their demon gods in hideous temples covered with stone serpents. They lived enchained by the devil in the darkest and horrific rituals.
However, in the sixteenth century, the Spanish missionaries arrived in Mexico and bought the Aztecs the full truth of Christ that would free them from their satanic practices. Missionaries spread out throughout the country trying to convert the natives to the Catholic Faith. But, despite their efforts most of the Aztec people refused to convert and leave their old practices of devil worship.
It seemed that only a miracle would be able to convert all the Aztecs to Christ and his Church. And so in 1531, the Woman promised by God in the Garden of Eden, personally came down from heaven and crushed the head of the serpent in Mexico and converted all her Aztec children.
The above whole play was beautifully acted by Calgary Konkans kids for 20 minutes. Kudos to all kids.
The evening was filled with entertainment: The cultural activities turned out so beautiful starting with little Sanover Lobo to older kids Bollywood dancers Stalin D’Cunha, Alistair Moras, Rumika Mascarenhas, Jessica Moras, Aneesha D’Cruz and Serverine Dourado. Rumika’s solo dance and her expressions were superb. We in Calgary seem to have Bollywood like dancing stars in the community. The evening was entertained and engaged the crowd throughout including the singing of beautiful songs by Rebecca Menonca, Naoimi Mendonca and Kieana Fernandes.
The most important part of the program was the sumptuous and traditional Mangalorean delicacies prepared and served by generous families in the community which included vorn, rice, dhal-gosale curry, sambar, korumb, sango, benda, karathe, moong sukka, channa-tendli, pickle – 5 types and many others which was beautifully coordinated by Natasha and Jerry Rodrigues.
Alistair Moras and Danica Mendonca were the young comperes of Monti Feast in Calgary was a breath of fresh air.
Additionally, as a fundraiser activity bingo is by actioned by Timothy Jayesh D’Souza and everyone was generous towards contributing funds towards Monti Fest expenses which really made the fun filled event.
Finally, Alistair Moras delivered the vote of thanks for all involved to make this programme a grand one including DJ of the day, AntonryTauro and providing parish hall by St Thomas Moore Church.
The program wound down by Konkani masala dance. The event was a successful one, under the guidance and direction of Fr John Pinto, OCD.
Again, Kudos to everyone for getting together to make this celebration an enriching fellowship experience in a true sense.
News reporter: Jerry Moras
Photographer : Ronald D’Souza