The 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.
The 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.