Herbert D’Souza – a Good Samaritan during Monti Fest
Got Paddy! Herbert D’Souza acts as a Good Samaritan during Mangalorean Catholic Feast “Monti Fest’, and Hindu Feast, Ganesh Chaturthi
Mangaluru: ‘Monti Fest’, also known as Nativity of Our Mother Mary is a feast celebrated by the Mangalurean Catholic community. There is religious symbolism in Monti Fest. Anna, the mother of Mary, was barren till she was very old. So, her first child is considered to be a journey from barrenness to first fruit. That is the rationale of celebrating Nativity also as harvest or new corn festival. It is notable that Onam, harvest festival of Malayalees, and Chowthi are celebrated around this time. On Monti Fest day, the matured bunches of paddy corn on the stalk are brought to the church, blessed and offered to the congregation.
A special prayer recited at the blessing reads: “Bless these new fruits in your blessed name… Grant health of body and soul to those who receive these new fruits in your blessed name”. The blessed stalks of new corn are taken to every home and is partaken with prayers and devotion. The de-husked corn is powdered and mixed with milk or a special dish made out of coconut milk and rice batter – a sort of kheer or payasam. Traditionally at least nine vegetables are cooked.
And for the last 13 years, one Catholic person by the name Herbert D’Souza, aged 56, hailing from Jeppinamogaru, in the outskirts of Mangaluru has been a Good Samaritan by donating new paddy stalks to various churches during Monti fest, and to various temples during Ganesh Chaturthi – and absolutely free of charge. Even if people offer him money, he refuses to accept it. That’s has been the nature of Herbert for the last two decades. Living with his wife Freida, he is a proud father of two children.
Herbert who has been doing cultivation on the two acres of ancestral property has allotted 20 cents of it exclusively to grow paddy which he supplies free of cost during Monti Fest and Ganesh Chaturthi. He offers the free paddy stalks to churches like Milagres church, Cascia, Bajal, Permannur, Infant Mary-Bikkarnakatte, Jeppu Seminary, Rosario, Fatima Retreat House, among many other churches. Even parishioners from a Shivamogga church come to him for the paddy stalks. Other than that, people take his paddy stalks abroad, like gulf countries, UK and USA.
Speaking to Team Mangalorean, Herbert said, “Many years my family used to grow sugarcane, cucumber, chillies and other vegetables – but since it was quite hectic I concentrated more on sand mining business. But I still do some cultivation on our land here and there. But I never miss growing paddy on the 20 cents land exclusively to be supplied to churches and temples, thereby continuing my good old tradition. Although it costs me around Rs 14-15 thousand every year, I never accept any money for the paddy stalks I supply. Many temples and churches offer me rewards, but I am very reluctant in accepting them. I only ask the priests/nuns to pray for me and also for my mother who is very sick. Prayers keep me strong and going. I don’t want anything else.”
Apart from cultivation, Herbert also gives Ayurvedic medicine for Jaundice, a remedy which was invented by his father – and he says, that the Ayurvedic medicine has shown very good results in patients suffering from jaundice. Apart from being a Good Samaritan, Herbert is active in Congress Party, being a former board member of Congress South Block. He is also the former Vice President of Youth Congress. He has also served as a Gurkar at Cascia Church. “But since I come from a family with a farming background working on the farm is just a piece of cake. I love what I am doing, and will continue doing it. I am happy that many church members help me in sowing seeds and in the cultivation work in the field. I will not give up this work aimed at a good cause, and will continue as far as my health permits me,” Herbert said.
May Mother Mary bless Herbert D’souza and his family for their good work they are doing for the Catholic and Hindu community.