‘Sakkad Sangatha Melyam…’! Kodiyalchi Catholics Gearing up for ‘Monthi Fest’

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‘Sakkad Sangatha Melyam…’! Kodiyalchi Catholics Gearing up for ‘Monthi Fest’

’Sakkad Sangata Melyam, Moriyek Hogolsiya’! Kodiyalchi (Mangalorean) Catholics Gearing up for ‘Monthi Fest’ aka ‘Feast of Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary’ – 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). Joshnna Behlen and Charlotte Ettner, both from Germany on a social service mission at De Mercede Orphanage-Derlakatte participated in the honoring of Infant Mary at Milagres Church, and were excited to join in the celebration- which was something unique for them.

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 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.

The nine days novena in preparation the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Monthi Festh) have already begun with Novena Mass in all churches in the district. The Novena days are the preparation for the Birthday of Mother Mary as well harvest feast for the whole family where the day begins with mass with children and devotees adoring the statue of our lady of nativity with flowers. There will be grand procession on the feast day to venerate and respect Mother Mary with flowers before the mass begins. The atmosphere will be resounding with the traditional hymn of “Sokkad Sangata Mellyan, Sokkad laggin Soryam”.

Following the Mass at Milagres Church, Hampankatta, Mangaluru , the children came out in two lines and then proceeded to the small alter and offered one or two flowers at the statue of the Nativity while the congregation sang the hymn, ‘Sakkad sangatha melya..Sakkad lagimsoryam…’. Later the children made a semi-circle, after the parish priest recited the Novena Prayer, the children began to throw/shower flowers towards the statue of Blessed Virgin Mary together singing of ‘Moriyek hogolshiaym…”At the end of the offering of flowers to Blessed Virgin Mary, packet of biscuits was distributed to the children.

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 in 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.

People living in the West coast of India, Christians celebrate this feast as’ Nove- Jevnche ‘ or in other words ‘ Festival of Harvest’ . The people use this occasion to salute the kindness of the divine powers and earn their kindness. This is also the festival in which they thankfully acknowledge the kindness of Mother Nature and mother earth for the bounteous crops. September 8, the Catholics consume only vegetarian meal, known as ‘Nove Jevan (New Meal)’. Processions are held, normally by taking a statue of Baby Mary along. People carry baskets of flowers and ears of paddy in their hands while walking in the processions, which start from the church, pass through decorated streets, and reach the church premises again. The children shower flowers on Mother Mary’s statue at the church. The newly harvested rice stalks and sugar-canes, duly blessed by the priests, are then taken home by the people. The grains are crushed at home, added to milk, and served to the family members. So it 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.

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 is becomes our heavenly mother too. It us 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 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 form 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.

And one tour and travel agency “Globe Travels” celebrate Monthi Fest in a unique way by decorating the statue of Infant Mary with flowers in the office, and they hold novenas. William D’souza- proprietor of “Globe Travels” said, ” I think we are the only office staff in the City observing Monthi Fest prior to the Feast day, by decorating the statue of Baby Mary kept in our office, and also do novenas before the start of the work at around 9.15 am. We have been following this tradition for the last three decades, and intend to continue it in the future years too”. At Milagres Church on Thursday evening, saw two foreigners from Germany namely Josanna Behlen and Charlotte Ettner who are doing some volunteering work at De Mercede Orphanage-Derlakatte joined in the honoring of Infant Mary and they were all thrilled and excited to witness something unique and traditional.

As a child, I remember gathering flowers from the garden and also from the neighborhood, and carrying them to Church in a dish/plate- but these days children have the privilege of carrying the flowers in fancy baskets, which are sold in various stores, and they have been selling like hot cakes. Images of Baby Virgin Mary are seen in large numbers at these shops. Ullhas Rasquinha, owner of Jerosa Company said that the business has been steady, with children coming along with their parents to pick their fancy colorful baskets, and also churches and other religious institution picking up Baby Mary’s images. Even vegetable markets/shops have stocked up all the vegetables needed by the Catholic faithful for the big family feast. Flower shops have been making a brisk business during this time of the year, where few Hindu festivals were also lined up, and added to them is the Catholic feast “Monthi Fest”.

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 sizable. 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’. On behalf of Team Mangalorean, while wishing our Konkan Catholic readers a blessed “Monti Fest”, I end this column with the words from most popular hymn of the fest – “Sakkad Sangatha Melyam’ and ‘Moriyek Hogolsyam”:

“Sakkad Sangata Mell’ia
Sakkad Sangata Mell’ia
Sakkad lagim soria
Amche talle ek koria
Moriec Porkunddiu’ia

Hortam durgannim sodia
Fulam ekttaim koria
Tancho eil mukutt guntia
Ani Moriec diuia
Rpt Ch

Faleam bitor bautelim
Tim xiuntim Abolim
Fulam tor khuim meutelim
Moriec favo zal’lim
Rpt Ch

Tujem kalliz tika di
“Puta hem di ” khuim di
Korta apurbai mai moji
Heam sobit fulamchi
Rpt Ch

Doriant Maie penn vetaum
Buddchea Kantant assaum
Mai! tuzo adar magtaum
Ani dhiran rautam
Rpt Ch

Tum Maie sucr sukhacho
Dadd tor uzvadd tuzo
Kallok pois daunddaumcho
Moddancho usko kaddcho
Rpt Ch

Vaddom choddom tujem nanv
Tuzo mog ud’dar zanv
Mellom mai, tujem bessanv
Bhagi-zaum amcho ganv”

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