‘Mother Mary is an Image of Love of God’- Fr Vinod Lobo at Rosario Cathedral Monti Fest Mass

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‘Mother Mary is an Image of Love of God. Make Her a Role Model for Your Family ‘- Fr Vinod Lobo, Assistant Parish Priest at Rosario Cathedral Monti Fest Mass on 8th September 2022

Mangaluru: Many churches in Mangaluru and Dakshina Kannada celebrated the BIGGEST Feast of Mangalorean Catholics, the ‘MONTI FESTH’ in Fervour and Gaiety with the tradition and culture of Konkan Catholics still continuing as the faithful partook in the celebration to praise Blessed Virgin Mary on her Birthday. Children came with flowers contained in small baskets, to shower them on Mary during the Mass, and everyone sang the hymn ‘Sakkad Sangatha Meliya…Moriyek Hogalsiya’. At the festal mass in Rosario Cathedral, the parish priest Fr Alfred Pinto (in the absence of Bishop Peter Paul Saldanha who always celebrates the mass, but at present he is abroad) joined by Fr Vinod Lobo, Assistant Parish priest and Fr Santhosh D’Souza- Resident priest.

Prior to the festive mass, Fr Alfred Pinto blessed the new Corn and statue of Baby Mary, adored with beautiful flowers at the St Ann’s Convent, after which a procession was taken to the Rosario Cathedral, with Baby Mary’s Statue carried in an open truck. Even though it rained early this morning, with the blessings of Blessed Mary, the weather was bright and sunny, perfect for the celebration. Reaching the cathedral, the children and adults showered flowers at the grotto of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the tunes of hymns sung by the choir and the faithful.

In his homily, Fr Vinod Lobo said, “Monti Fest is the joyful event of the birth of mother Mary. Her life is an example of God’s love. The word mother is an affectionate word as it attaches like a magnet. Mother Mary is an image of love for God. Her life is dedicated to the salvation of the souls of humankind. Even though there are only Seven references in the Bible denoting mother Mary still these seven references depict the whole life of mother Mary. She is an embodiment of love, sacrifice, kindness, grace and sacrifice”.

“Today we also celebrate a family feast. A healthy family lies in coordination between husband and wife. Quoting Pope Francis” Thank you, Forgive me and I am sorry these words make a good family”. The family should also focus on prayer and also should eat to gather. A family that prayers together, stays together. Mother Mary is a model for our families and how we can follow in her footsteps by being obedient to God’s will and accepting the challenges in upbringing our children as God’s gift. To conclude this day is a day marked for the girl child who needs to be appreciated,” added Fr Vinod Lobo.

A large gathering of faithful partook in the Mass at Rosario Church. The choir was co-ordinated by Anthony D’Silva, and the hymns were sung beautifully by the faithful, including a bevvy of nuns. Fr Alfred Pinto, the Parish Priest conveyed his festal message and wished everyone a blessed feast, and urged the faithful to maintain togetherness. Monti Fest this year was BIG and GRAND, after a sombre fest last year due to the pandemic. After the mass, everyone was treated with sugarcane, and they all went home happy carrying it.

As per the local history, “Monti Fest” has its origin in 1763 in Farangipet on the outskirts of Mangaluru. Here, Fr Joachim Miranda, a Goan Catholic priest of secular credentials, who lived around 250 years ago, started this practice on top of a hill, on the northern bank of the Netravati river where lies an ancient place called Monte Moriano. Though Tippu Sultan destroyed the churches of Canara, he spared Monte Mariano Church in deference to the friendship of his father Hyder Ali with Fr Miranda. 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 ‘Monti’ has been derived from the word ‘Monte’ and over the years has been modified to be known as ‘Monti Fest’. On this solemn occasion, the Catholics partake in a community feast or a family feast having only vegetarian dishes.

The celebration started nine days in advance with novena prayers to Mother Mary, during which period small children took special pride in offering flowers every day- and this year the Novena started on 30 August. The grand celebration of Monti Fest was held on 8 September with traditional gaiety and religious fervour at all the Churches which are decorated tastefully for the occasion. On this special day, the Catholic community members took the freshly grown paddy stalks to their respective churches as an offering of the first bounty of nature to Mother Mary. Special prayers were offered pleading Holy Mother to keep the fertility of nature for generations to come and provide all the bounties of nature to the children of the world.

It is a tradition in Mangalore for the families to gather together and share a vegetarian meal consisting of at least five-ten vegetarian dishes. Sorry, no Dukhra mass and Soro! The dishes, “Alu-dento” and “Vorn” are a must in every household. The grains taken from blessed paddy stalks or corn are added to the milk or “Vorn” and offered to the members of the family in a symbolic gesture of thanksgiving for our Lady’s blessings. The festival has special relevance in the modern world as it keeps the community together not just in South Canara (Dakshina Kannada) and Mangaluru city but in all different continents where Mangalorean Catholics have settled. They continue to celebrate Monti Fest in whatever way they can in their countries and enjoy the nostalgia connected with their own families and parishes back home.

So Monti Fest is also a festival representing the symbol of family unity. This feast is celebrated with joy and happiness as it is the harvest festival as well, a time when the farmer is getting the crop ready for the year. Monti 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 speciality is that we venerate and celebrate Mother Mary’s birthday because she is the mother of the Messiah, the saviour, 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. 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.

TEAM MANGALOREAN wishes our Kodialchi Catholics a ‘HAPPY MONTHI FESTH”

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