‘Mother Mary is an Image of the Love of God. Make her a role model for your family’ – Father Vinod Lobo, assistant parish priest at Rosario Cathedral Messe Monti Festh September 8, 2022
Mangaluru: Many churches in Mangaluru and Dakshina Kannada celebrated the BIGGEST Mangalorian Catholic festival, ‘MONTI FESTH’ in fervor and merriment with the tradition and culture of Konkan Catholics continuing as worshipers participated in the celebration to praise the Blessed Virgin Mary on her birthday. Children came with flowers in small baskets to pour over Mary during Mass, and everyone sang the hymn “Sakkad Sangatha Meliya…Moriyek Hogalsiya”. During the feast Mass in the Cathedral of Rosario, the parish priest, Father Alfred Pinto (in the absence of Bishop Peter Paul Saldanha who is still celebrating Mass, but is currently abroad) joined by Father Vinod Lobo, assistant parish priest and Father Santhosh D’souza- Resident priest.
Before the festive mass, Father Alfred Pinto blessed the new corn and the statue of Baby Mary, adored with beautiful flowers at the Convent of Saint Anne, after which a procession was taken to the Cathedral of Rosario, with the statue of Baby Mary transported in an open truck. Although it rained early this morning, with the blessing of Blessed Mary, the weather was clear and sunny, perfect for the celebration. Arrived at the cathedral, the children and the adults flowered the grotto of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the sound of hymns sung by the choir and the faithful.
In his homily, Fr Vinod Lobo said, “Monthi Festh is the joyous event of the birth of Mother Mary. His life is an example of God’s love. The word mother is an affectionate word because it attaches like a magnet. Mother Mary is an image of love for God. His life is dedicated to the salvation of the souls of mankind. Even though there are only seven references in the Bible to Mother Mary, these seven references describe Mother Mary’s entire life. She is an embodiment of love, sacrifice, kindness, grace and sacrifice”.
“Today we are also celebrating a family celebration. A healthy family lies in the coordination between husband and wife. Quoting Pope Francis “Thank you, forgive me and I’m sorry that these words make a good family”. The family must also focus on prayer and must also eat to come together. A family that prays together, stays together. Mother Mary is a role model for our families and how we can follow in her footsteps by obeying God’s will and accepting the challenges of raising our children as a gift from God. To conclude this day is a marked day for the little girl who needs to be appreciated” added Father Vinod Lobo.
A large gathering of the faithful participated in the mass at the Rosario church. The choir was coordinated by Anthony D’silva, and the hymns were sung beautifully by the faithful, including a host of nuns. Father Alfred Pinto, the parish priest, delivered his festive message and wished everyone a blessed feast, and urged the faithful to maintain unity. Monti Festh this year was BIG and BIG, after a dismal party last year due to the pandemic. After mass, everyone was treated with sugar cane, and they all went home happy wearing it.
According to local history, “Monti Festh” originated in 1763 at Farangipet on the outskirts of Mangaluru. Here, Fr. Joachim Miranda, a Catholic priest with secular credentials from Goa, who lived about 250 years ago, started this practice on the top of a hill on the north bank of the Netravati River where there is a ancient place called Monte Moriano. Although Tippu Sultan destroyed the churches of Canara, he spared the church of Monte Mariano out of respect for his father Hyder Ali’s friendship with Father Miranda. Oral history indicates that the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady was first celebrated in Monte Moriano to coincide with the church’s annual feast. The term ‘Monthi’ is derived from the word ‘Monte’ and over the years it has been modified to be known as ‘Monthi Fest’. On this solemn occasion, Catholics participate in a community feast or a family feast featuring only vegetarian dishes.
The celebration started nine days early with novena prayers to Mother Mary, during which time the little children were especially proud to offer flowers every day – and this year the novena started on August 30. The great celebration of Monti Festh took place on September 8 with traditional gaiety and religious fervor in all the churches tastefully decorated for the occasion. On this special day, members of the Catholic community brought the freshly grown paddy stalks to their respective churches as an offering of nature’s first bounty to Mother Mary. Special prayers were offered to implore the Blessed Mother to maintain the fertility of nature for generations to come and to provide all of nature’s bounties to the children of the world.
It is a tradition in Mangalore that families get together and share a vegetarian meal consisting of at least five to ten vegetarian dishes. Sorry, no Dukhra and Soro mass! The “alu-dento” and “vorn” dishes are a must in every household. Grains taken from blessed rice or corn stalks are added to milk or “vorn” and offered to family members in a symbolic gesture of thanksgiving for Our Lady’s blessings. The festival has special relevance in the modern world as it maintains community not only in South Canara (Dakshina Kannada) and the city of Mangaluru, but in all the different continents where Mangalorean Catholics have settled. They continue to celebrate Monti Festh in every way possible in their country and enjoy the nostalgia linked to their own families and parishes back home.
So Monti Festh is also a festival representing the symbol of family unity. This festival is celebrated with joy and happiness as it is also the harvest festival, a time when the farmer prepares the harvest for the year. Monti Festh is the celebration of family ties, filial relationships and a party that makes us realize that we are an integral part of the nature around us, bringing us closer to Mother Nature.
The specialty is that we venerate and celebrate the birthday of Mother Mary because she is the mother of the Messiah, the saviour, the redeemer Lord Jesus Christ. Then automatically, as Jesus is the son of God, she also becomes our Heavenly Mother. It is truly amazing to see that all Konkani Catholics unite wherever they are across the globe with the same spirit and zeal and make it their duty to celebrate this great Monti fest all over the world. The singing of hymns, ‘Sakkad Sangatha Melyam’ and ‘Moriyek Hogolsyam’ is an integral part of Monti Festh. People feel blessed and happy when paying homage to Mother Mary on her birthday.
TEAM MANGALOREAN wishes our Catholics in Kodialchi a “HAPPY MONTHI FESTH”