Sokodd Sangata Meliya, Moriyek Hogalsiya! 9-Days Novena begins to Mark ‘Monti Fest’

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Sokodd Sangata Meliya, Moriyek Hogalsiya! FIRST day of the 9-Days Novena began on 30 August 2022 to Mark ‘Monti Fest’, at various Catholic Churches in DK/Mangaluru- a Feast of Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary, one of the MAJOR Mangalorean Catholic festivals which will be celebrated on 8 September

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 ‘Monti 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 for the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Monti Fest) began on 30 August, prior to the Big Feast- “Monti Fest” on 8 September) 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. Every year, there will be grand procession on the feast day to venerate and respect Mother Mary with flowers before the mass begins, and the atmosphere will be resounding with the traditional hymn of “Sokkad Sangata Meliya, Moriyek Hogalsiya”


At Milagres Church, Hampankatta- Mangaluru, the First day of the Novena was held with devotion to infant Mary who is very dear to Catholics, especially in Mangaluru. A time where children flocked together, bringing flowers in honour of Mary, singing hymns and after the novena enjoying sweets. Children and parishioners were asked to offer flowers individually after the mass in procession. This year the mass and novena were held in the open terrace hall of Milagres College since the Church is getting new flooring done at the moment.

Fr Bonaventure Nazareth, the parish priest of Milagres Church celebrated the mass, while Fr Kenneth Crasta-the Assistant Parish Priest conducted the Novena. After the novena and showering of flowers to the statue of Baby Mary, the children were treated with sweets and cake pieces. It should be noted that one of the earliest Monti Fest was celebrated at Milagres Church in the city in 1906.


At Athma Jyothi Ashram, a Counselling and Devotion Centre located on Souza Lane, Kadri, Mangaluru the First day of the Monti Fest started at 6:30 am, and following the mass, a few children accompanied by their parents showered flowers at the statue of Baby Mary. The mass was conducted by Fr Dolphy Devdas Serrao, in charge of the Ashram- After the offering of flowers in the church, the Holy Sacrifice was offered.

In his Homily, Fr Dolphy Serrao reflected saying, “ ‘Monti festh’ – 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 merrymaking, rather it has a message hidden in it, an incident to recall or a specific purpose to remember; So also Monti 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”

As a child, I remember gathering flowers from the garden and also from the neighbourhood, 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. Images of the Baby Virgin Mary are seen in large numbers at these shops, especially at Gerosa Company, Hampankatta, Mangaluru and Milagres Company and Shetty Traders, Hampankatta, Mangaluru. Christians all over the world will be celebrating the feast of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary(BVM) or simply the birthday of Mary, the Mother of our savior Jesus Christ, as well as our Heavenly Mother- a Feast commonly called by the locals as “Monti Festh” in Konkani .

The Catholic Christians residing in the west coast of India (Karnataka, Goa, Mumbai and Vasai) celebrate the birthday of Mother Mary as “Monti Festh”. 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.

On the Feast day, 8 September, It is a tradition in Mangaluru for the Catholic families to gather together and share a vegetarian meal consisting of at least 6-8 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.

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. On September 8, the Catholics consume only vegetarian meal, known as ‘Nove Jevan (New Meal)’. 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.

Monti Fest is the celebration of family bonds, filial relationships and a feast which makes us aware that we are very much part of 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. 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 Meliya’ – ‘Moriyek Hogolsyam’ has been an inherent part of Monti Festh. The people feel blessed and blissful by paying obeisance to Mother Mary on her birth anniversary. Even the busiest of people take time off to be a part of the procession, to hail Monti’s kindness and get divine

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