With a passion appropriate to this solemn yet festive event, the Mangalorean Association of Canada (MAC) organized and hosted the traditional Monthi Fest on September 17 at the Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Mississauga.
Leading the religious ceremonies, Gerry D’Mello welcomed the guests and enlightened the audience with the significance of Monthi Fest. Young and older angelic children, dressed in their finery, placed flowers in honour of Mother Mary to the accompaniment of ‘Sokkad Sangatha Melyan’ and ‘Moriyek Hogolsiyan’. With the blessing of the sheaves of grain, the congregation followed by the Knights of Columbus, the priests and young men carrying the statue of our Mother Mary walked eagerly in a procession to the church for a Konkani mass.
The church resounded with the singing of the Konkani choir led by Merlyn Rodrigues. From the subdued anticipation of the faithful Catholics gathered for mass to the solemn assemblage of Fr Edwin D’Souza, Fr Henry Alva, Fr Andrew Lewis, Fr Roshan D’Souza, Fr Martin Pereira and Deacon Sarfaraz Pinto to the powerful, soul-stirring homily preached by Fr Roshan D’Souza, people participated in the excitement of reminiscent traditions, the taste of sugarcane and traditions from back home.
The cultural programme commenced in the church hall with a light snack and an introductory welcome speech by Manohar Pais, president of MAC. He introduced the comperes of the evening, Nisha Pereira and Jake Pereira who set the evening on fire with their warmth and enthusiasm.
A vivacious and graceful classical dance glorified Mother Mary. The pièce de résistance of the evening was a tableau depiction of the ‘Sorrowful Mysteries’. Written and directed by Manohar Pais, the actors brought to life the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus and the unwavering love of Mother Mary with their evocative and exquisite performances. Such was the passion and powerful emotion displayed by the actors during the play, it no longer felt like acting but undeniably real. An exuberant dance was performed by young children to music provided by Rohan Crasta and choreographed by Nina Crasta and Marjoreen Machado.
Manohar Pais and Melwyn Menezes, vice-president of MAC extended their gratitude to the many sponsors by inviting them on stage and applauding their generosity. Fr Edwin D’Souza then blessed the new corn or the ‘Noven’ ensuring the continuation of a tradition endearingly followed by Catholics universally. This was followed by a sumptuous vegetarian dinner lovingly cooked catered by Loy D’Souza of Konkan Delite. Of noteworthy mention was the ‘Vorn’, a delectable dessert made of coconut milk, rice, cane sugar and cashews.
The dinner was followed by a spectacular dance choreographed by Carol Lobo. In striking costumes and jewellery, the dancers transported the audience to Mangaluru and the cultural traditions of their hometowns.
Music can be sweeping and glorious expressing so many emotions and each culture has its own intrinsic form. Choreographed and organized by Sonia Monteiro, the group performance of singers set the stage on fire with their incredible Konkani songs kindling a rush of memories from times long forgotten. A mesmerizing Bollywood dance by the group called ‘Funky Five’ coordinated by Eryl Menezes captivated the audience who enthusiastically supported the young performers.
Education has always been a priority for MAC who initiated a scholarship programme for first year university entrants. The 2017 scholarship winners were Clementina D’Souza and Kenneth Pinto, both gifted youngsters with an incredible work ethic and determined focus on their career path. The scholarship awards were presented by Janet D’Souza and the awards were handed over by Maxim D’Mello, former president of MAC and Prescilla D’Mello and Reginald Fernandes, former auditor of MAC and Mary Fernandes.
The final item in the programme was the 50/50 raffle draw and the awarding of door prizes. As much as 50% of the proceeds from the raffle draw were allocated to the building of a church in Manipur. With the singing of ‘Laudate’, the beautiful Nativity cultural programme was concluded.
MAC sincerely appreciates the support and participation of all the volunteers especially Leon Lobo, Earl Dacara, Ivan Lobo and Michele D’mello and the dedication and commitment of its members and organizers who worked tirelessly to make Monthi Fest an astounding success.