Monthi Fest is of special importance to the Catholic community residing in
Canada, as it celebrates not only the birthday of the mother of Jesus Christ
but also the new harvest. Through this feast celebration, people demonstrate
unity and solidarity in the Catholic faith, their rich ethnic heritage and work
towards enriching their children’s love of Konkani culture.
Mangalorean Association of Canada (MAC) to whom this pioneer venture is
attributed to, is organizing the event on Sunday, September 8 at the St.
Maximilian Kolbe Church followed by a cultural programme at John Paul II Polish
Cultural Centre in Mississauga. Children are encouraged to bring flowers at
3.30 pm to offer to Mother Mary and sweets will be distributed to the
participants. A Konkani High Mass will be celebrated by over 6 priests
including Fr Henry Alva OFM.Cap.Provincial of the Franciscan Capuchins of ‘Mary
Mother of Good Shepherd’ province, in the region English speaking Canada as the
main celebrant. Renowned Konkani singers in Canada will join the angelic choir
under the dynamic leadership of acclaimed musician Merlyn Rodrigues.
This year, the Konkani community in Greater Toronto and
surrounding areas will be privileged to celebrate their most cherished ‘Monthi
Fest’ witnessing a unique honour bestowed on Merlyn Rodrigues, popularly known
as the Konkani Nightingale of Canada, for her immense contribution for the
community through her great talent of music. This is the first time ever MAC is
instituting such honour.
Konkani singer Merlyn Rodrigues has always chosen to keep
a low profile. That does not mean her contribution as a Konkani
singer is insignificant or is not recognized by connoisseurs of Konkani music.
Those who have heard and seen her singing vouch for her mellifluent voice
etched in their memory. Born and raised in Mangaluru, Merlyn is the second
among six children of the late Ligoury D’Souza and the late Alice D’Souza from
the renowned parish of Derebail, Mangaluru. She is married to Lancy Rodrigues
and they have a son and daughter and two grand children.
Merlyn has been singing since her childhood days. Started
singing in the church choir since high school, which gave her an opportunity to
hone her music talents. She joined St. Dominic Church choir , Ashoknagar when
the new church was built in 1970 and was choir leader for over 8 years before
she moved to Abu Dhabi after completing her studies in search of greener
pastures. She met her life partner Lancy Rodrigues in Abu Dhabi who remained as
her great supporter in all her extra-curricular activities in the church as
well as other cultural events.
Merlyn fondly remembers and wishes to express her
gratitude for the encouragement that she received from the parish priest late
Fr Reginald Cardoza who introduced her to the late Patrick Carlo , a renowned
musician at Bishop’s House, Kodialbail, Mangaluru and the late Fr Walter
Albuquerque S J from the Retreat House , who were instrumental in training her
and enhancing her talent in singing and music.
After moving to Abu Dhabi she was a member of St Joseph’s
Church choir for 15 years and choir conductor for over 8 years . During this
time , she had the privilege of conducting the choir for the celebration Mass
in Latin for the late Bishop Bernard Gremoli’s 50th priesthood anniversary and 25years
as a Bishop and was also recognized for her services with a Certificate of
Papal Blessing from Rome.
Merlyn was also Executive committee member of Konkan Cultural
Organization (KCO Abu Dhabi ) since its formation in 1995, contributed to the
cultural events organized by KCO and was the choir conductor for Monthi Fest
and monthly Konkani Mass until she immigrated to Canada.
Apart from the Church activities she also participated in
the activities and concerts organized by the following groups in Abu Dhabi:
Abu Dhabi Choral Group
Indian Ladies Association
Khaleej Times Women’s’ Association
Karnataka Sangha – Managing Committee member
After moving to Canada she joined the St Francis Xavier’s
Church Choir in 2001 and has been singing with this group until now. She was
one of the founding members of the Mangalore Association of Canada and has been
conducting the Konkani choir for over 15years. She took an active role in
singing with Sangeeth Samraat Henry D’Souza during Lorna Henry Live in Concert
in Canada organized by Radio Mango.
She also took lead in organizing Konkani Choral singing at
the ‘Voices for Christ’ event organized by the Knights of Columbus in December
2018 in Mississauga, Canada. Professionally she started her career as a banker
working in Abu Dhabi for Khaleej Commercial Bank for 7 years and Citibank for
10 years before moving to Canada and has been working for Royal Bank of Canada
for the past 15 years as a Financial Advisor.
In addition to the honour for Merely Rodrigues, a
power-packed cultural programme has been organized to satisfy the clamoring
demands of the community. Manohar Pais, the dynamic president of MAC, informed
Daijiworld that the preparations are going on in full swing and that there will
be a big turnout this year. He urged the Konkani community residing in
Mississauga and surrounding areas not to miss this golden opportunity and to attend
in large numbers to celebrate our Blessed Virgin Mother’s birthday celebration.
An authentic sumptuous vegetarian Mangalurean dinner ‘Novem Jevonn’’ catered by
Canada’s one and only ‘Konkan Delite’ will be served at the Monthi Fest. He
also informed that only a few tickets are available and requested to buy entry
passes at the earliest to avoid disappointment.
Undoubtedly this will be a unique and memorable
Konkani event for Konkani Diaspora residing in Toronto and surrounding areas.