By Gerry D'Mello
Pictures by Ivan Lobo and Vijay Pereira
Monthi Fest or the Nativity of our Lady elicits a magical effect on the psyche of the Konkani Catholics around the globe. It evokes a flood of fond nostalgic memories in their minds of sugarcane, sticky candy, borrowing flowers from the neighborhood, delicious meals from freshly harvested vegetables and so on. Through the years, many lovely customs and folk traditions have evolved around this feast such as the blessing of the new corn, showering of flowers to Infant Mary, consuming the grains of the new harvest in a cup of milk or sweet 'Vorn', and eating a variety of vegetarian dishes at the festive meal. This heartwarming harvest feast celebrates and culminates the hard work of the Konkan farmers with the birthday of dear Mother Mary.
The Mangalorean Association of Canada (MAC) which comprises of the Konkani Catholic community of Greater Toronto celebrated the "Monthi Fest" on Sunday, 13th September 2015 with devotion and splendor at St Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Mississauga. Parents and children assembled in the evening at Pope John Paul II hall to honor the Infant Mary. The program commenced with a welcome note by Gerry D'Mello who assumed the leadership for the processional arrangements. A solemn procession of tiny tots and little children carrying plates of flowers entered the hall and they eagerly placed flowers in honor of Mother Mary to the great tune of "sokkod sangatha mellyam" and "Moriyek Hogolsiyan".
Lancy John Rodrigues, the Spiritual Coordinator of MAC led the novena prayers. Fr Edwin D'Souza, the spiritual director of MAC conducted the ceremony of blessing the "Bambino" (the statue of Infant Mary), new sheaves of grain, Muddhom Candles and the Rosaries. The community gathered there were thrilled to see this display of enthusiasm and devotion not only from the adults but from the children as well.
The High Mass in Konkani was concelebrated at St Maximilian Kolbe church by Rev. Fr Edwin D'Souza, Fr Rudolph Pinto and Deacon Sarfaraz Pinto. The church reverberated with the voices of the faithful and the magnificence and significance of the feast was evident in the huge crowd gathered. The altar decorations, the altar servers and the festive ambience of the church were really soul-elevating and added to the solemnity of the event. The walls of the church resonated with the mellifluous singing of the Konkani choir conducted by Merlyn Rodrigues. The homily delivered by Fr Rudolph Pinto on true peace was very enlightening and thought provoking. Overall, the whole atmosphere was so devotional and captivating that the congregation felt that they were attending a Eucharistic celebration back home in their native towns and villages. During the Holy Mass Fr Edwin presented "Muddhom Candles" to the sponsors who generously supported the event.
After the Mass there was the distribution of the blessed new-corn and rosaries to all the families of the Eucharistic celebration. The children received chocolate treats in lieu of the traditional sugarcane.
The cultural program commenced at Pope John Paul II hall with a hearty welcome that was extended to an overwhelmingly full hall by the emcee, Manohar Pais. With his charming and inimitable style, Manohar built a rapport with the audience. He invited Nicole D'Mello and Jolene Lewis the budding young emcees to the dais to conduct the rest of the cultural events. Maxim D'Mello, the dynamic President of MAC, welcomed the audience to the celebration of the Monthi Fest and the cultural program. He thanked the clergy, sponsors, volunteers and guests for their selfless sacrifices, time and energy. Seneca Rego, a budding Bharatanatyam artiste in Canada, gave an awe-inspiring dance performance to the tune of a Konkani hymn.
The highlight of the program was a Konkani skit "Sonthosache Misther" (The Joyful Mysteries) written and directed by renowned Konkani artiste Manohar Pais and enacted by the actors par-excellence Ronald D'Souza, Loveena D'Souza, Precilla D'Cunha, Seneca Rego, Ronald Monteiro, Wilson D'Souza, Maxim D'Mello, Cyril Pinto & Gerry D'Mello. Each actor is to be commended for their unique accomplishment as the skit was a resounding success and appreciated by all. Mangalorean Star Ken Monteiro played the sequence music. Sonia Monteiro's melodious singing was like the icing on the cake!
The creative stage setting done by Janet D'Souza, Louella Cardoza & Rony D'Souza was highly commendable.