Moriyek Hogalsiya! Milagres Church and Athma Jyothi Ashram Celebrate ‘Monti Fest’ in Fervour
Moriyek Hogalsiya! Milagres Church-Mangaluru & Athma Jyothi Ashram-Kadri, Mangaluru Celebrate ‘Monti Fest’ in Fervour and Devotion
Mangaluru:“Monti Fest” aka Feast of Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary is a major Mangalorean Catholic festival which falls on September 8 every year. This festival celebrates the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and in the Mangalorean Catholic community involves blessing of Novem (new crop). The festival derives its name from the Monte Mariano Church at Farangipet in South Canara (now called Dakshina Kannada) and was initiated by Joachim Miranda, a Goan Catholic priest at Farangipet in 1763. The Church is also known as Mount of Mary. Oral history goes to state that the Nativity festival of our Lady was first celebrated at Monte Moriano to coincide with the annual feast of the church. The term ‘Monthi’ has been derived from the word ‘Monte’ and over the years has been modified to be known as ‘Monthi Fest’. On this solemn occasion, the Catholics partake in a community feast or a family feast having only vegetarian dishes. Though Tippu Sultan destroyed the churches of South Canara, he spared Monte Mariano Church in deference to the friendship of his father Hyder Ali with Father Joachim Miranda.
Why is this feast very important to Indian Christians especially Mangaloreans and Goans, people on the west coastal belt? Monthi Fest is the celebration of family bonds, filial relationships and a feast which makes us aware that we are very much part of the nature around us bringing us closer to Mother Nature. The specialty that we venerate and celebrate Mother Mary’s birthday because she is the mother of the Messiah the savior, redeemer Lord Jesus Christ. So automatically as Jesus is the son of God she becomes our heavenly mother too. It is really amazing to see that all Konkani Catholics unite wherever they are spread across the Globe with one spirit and zeal and make it a point to celebrate this great festival of Monti fest all over the world.
It is really amazing to see children in full joy and enthusiasm, where they brought flowers in their respective colorful baskets to honour Blessed Virgin Mary. Christians all over the world will be celebrating the feast of Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary(BVM) or simply the birthday of Mary, the Mother of our savior Jesus Christ, as well as our Heavenly Mother. The feast of Nativity is traditionally celebrated on September 8, which is commonly called by the locals as “Monti Fest” in Konkani. There will be nine days of Novena as a preparation for the feast and on the tenth day, the feast is celebrated. The Catholic Christians residing on the west coast of India (Karnataka, Goa, Mumbai and Vasai) celebrate the birthday of Mother Mary as “Monti Fest”. The birthday of Blessed Virgin Mary which is celebrated with the blessing of the new corn and family meal is one of the great celebration of Konkani Catholic community residing all over the world.
Monthi Fest Celebration at Milagres Church-Hampankatta, Mangaluru:
Parishioners of Milagres Church, along with their children took part in a procession which commenced at 7.15 am, which was inaugurated by MLA J R Lobo, from KMC Attavar and culminated at the Milagres Church ground. Quite a number of faithful took part in the procession, including priests and nuns- also parish priest of Milagres Church, Fr Valerian D’Souza and other clergies. As the jeep carrying the statue of Infant Mary approached the entrance of the Church, all the children showered flowers at the statue.
Later Fr Valerian D’souza- parish priest of Milagres Church, offered candles to the various donors and well-wishers who had contributed to the Monti Fest celebration expenses. The festive mass was celebrated by Fr Valerian D’Souza, along with other clergies. “Mother Mary is the mother of Lord Jesus. She is not only the Mother of Jesus but the mother of all. She Loves Children and this is apparent with her appearance to little children Francis, Lucy and Jacintha at Fathima in Europe. One of those children is now a nun and is still alive. In every successful human being, there is a woman, she is none other than our own mother. She always thinks about the success of her child”.
Recalling a story of a mother of ten children, it so happens during her 75th birthday celebration, the master of the ceremony asked her, “What was her happiest moment in her life”? She replied, ” When I was bearing all that delivery pain, and after the delivery, seeing the face of the new born was the happiest moment in my life”. Fr Valerian also thanked all those persons who had given their mite for the successful celebration of this feast. He wished all the faithful present, a happy feast and also prayed for good health to those abroad.
After the Mass, sugarcane were distributed to the children who had offered flowers to Infant Mary.
Monti Fest celebration at Athma Jyothi Ashram-Souza Lane, Kadri, Mangaluru:
Athma Jyothi Ashram being next to my house, I woke up early this morning, for the blessing of the new crop (Novem) at 6.30 am, which was done by Fr Peter Cyprian D’souza and Fr Dolphy Devdas Serrao, of the Ashram, where devotees flock for counselling, and spiritual healing. After the offering of flowers in the church, the Holy Sacrifice was offered, During which in the Homily Fr Dolphy Serrao reflected saying, “ ‘Monthi fest’ – a feast that is close to the heart of all Christians of Kanara (Mangaluru) which has a special role to play in every Christian’s life. Every feast we celebrate is not just for fun, or merry making, rather it has a message hidden in it, an incident to recall or a specific purpose to remember; So also Monthi fest. On this day we commemorate the immaculate birth of Mary, and along with this celebration, this feast also encourages family bonding. On this day let’s reflect on, firstly, Never ever sacrifice ‘your family’ for anyone or for anything. Secondly, prepare your children for the next world – this was the message of Mary revealed at one of her apparitions”
It is a tradition in Mangaluru for the families to gather together and share a vegetarian meal consisting of at least 5-7 vegetarian dishes. The grains taken from blessed paddy stalk or corn is added to the milk or “Vorn” (Payasam) and offered to the members of the family in a symbolic gesture of thanksgiving for our Lady’s blessings. The festival has a special relevance in the modern world as it keeps the community together not just in South Canara (DK) and Mangaluru city but in all different continents where Mangalorean Catholics have settled. They continue to celebrate Monthi fest in whatever way they can in their countries and enjoy the nostalgia connected with their own families and parishes back home.
No doubt, Monti Fest is gaining popularity all over the globe these days, as it is celebrated in every town where the population of Konkani-speaking people is sizeable. Singing of hymns, ‘Sakkad Sangatha Melyam’ and ‘Moriyek Hogolsyam’ has been an inherent part of Monti Fest. The people feel blessed and blissful by paying obeisance to Mother Mary on her birth anniversary. One of the earliest Monti Fests was celebrated at Milagres Church in the city in 1906. Even the busiest of people take time off to be a part of the procession, to hail Monti’s kindness and get divine blessings, on ‘Monti Fest’. Happy Monte Festh to every Kodiyal Catholics who reads this Article, on behalf of Team Mangalorean. May Mother shower her blessings on all of you and us. End this column with “Be With Us Mary” song on YouTube:
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