Mangalore, September 8: Over the globe, this day-Sepetember 8th is an auspicious day for Konkani Catholics. The church celebrates the Birthday of Mother Mary. In many parts of the world, a special Holiday is declared and church goes on compulsory. In coastal area, it is even the celebration of harvest and very special to Konkani Catholic’s. With joyful ceremonies.
The new corn from the paddy fields is ceremoniously brought to the church by heads of the area. Then it is taken in a solemn procession along with the image of Infant Mary, after the special Mass, the corn is blessed and distributed to all present and respectfully taken home where it is crushed and mixed with sweetened cardamom flavoured coconut milk and consumed by family members. Special prayers and thanks giving before the vegetarian festival meal are observed.
All over coastal area, the catholic parishes and churches will go in procession with the harvested corn, fruits and vegetables today. Solemn mass is being celebrated with devotional people participating in large numbers. Today, families will join together for the traditional meal later. As a consequence of a recent delegation of MLA Lobo, MLC Ivan D’Souza, Archbishop Moras of Bangalore and Bishop D’Souzaform Mangalore, which met the Chief Minister of Karnataka, as reported by ’Mangalore Today’, the State Govt has declared September 8th, as ’restricted holiday’ in Karnataka to mark Monthi Fest. Government and Religious leaders have extended warm greetings to the people on this auspicious day.
Legacy of ’Monthi Fest’:
In Tulunadu the beginning of September is the ending of the South-West monsoon, a resplendent time for all communities. Harvest is looked forward to by all communities; it is the traditional vedic agrarian legacy of local history. Aati, Janmashtami, Chathurthi, Dussera, Onam – and also “Monthi Fest/ Maria Jayanthi”, the Birthday of Mary-Mother of Jesus Christ, is celebrated traditionally on September 8th. The Konkani community, irrespective of religion adopted Coastal area as their home centuries ago. The social focus of this unique festival of Kanara draws a parallel to local traditions of the region and the harvest meal partaken in the family home by as many members as possible is special. It is always a purely vegetarian fare with odd number of vegetarian dishes usually 7,9,11……. To name some of the vegetables popular for this feast in Konkani: Gosale (furrow gourd), Alsando (long beans), Benda (ladies finger/okra), Karatte(bitter gourd), Dantu ( stem of spinach), Alve or Allu (long stalked stem), Ambade ( hog plum), Thoshe (Cucumber), Chene(Black Bengal gram/Chana), Dudhi(pumpkin), Kuvalo (Ash pumpkin) …………….and others. Narl (Coconut) is widely used and is the main flavour of the community at all times in all dishes. Itoo, Boiled Red Rice, Sanna (a special kind of Idli with fermented coconut milk), Appa and so on are the basic of the meal. A special prayerful tradition is observed: The ’NOVE’ newly blessed rice paddy is sprinkled to the dishes; a special mix of coconut milk, jaggery and cardamom in which crushed blessed paddy is added which is passed to all the members present after a solemn prayer of thanksgiving according to the family needs. There is much devotion and gratitude to God, nature and providers. With the nuclear system, in the evening the married children visit parental/elders homes and are generally offered ’Shevio Roce’ (rice noodles with cardamon flavoured coconut sweet milk) again sprinkled with ’blessed corn’ -Nove. It is the Gods that make all things new! MONTHI FESTH – SEPTEMBER 8, has become a virtual global observance among larger Kanara communities in Gulf Countries, Canada, US, UK, Australia, Africa and more. It is evolving as a link observance identifying the Konkani Catholics. Other groups are formulating suitable variations to suit the individual visions. May the good resulting out of such sacred observances unite all human kind to eternal values and Blessings from the most high!
Dawn of ’Monthi Fest’:
We are aware that one of the few churches untouched in the Captivity Era post 1784, was Monte Mariano at Farangipet (also known as Arkula), eventually the base of Capuchin Friars. It catered to the Christian agriculturists of the backwoods around Bantwal. These Konkani Catholics were the backbone of the present-day Konkani Catholic population widely. ’Monte Mariano’, got its typical name from a Portuguese church atop a mount in Goa, dedicated to Mary – the phenomenon spread to other areas too like ’Mount Mary’ in Bandra, Mumbai. The event on September 8th traditionally attained certain harvest observances progressively which took different forms and converged with various cultures from ancient times. Around Mangalore and in Kanara the ’mount of Mary’ ’Monte Mariano’ in Konkani became known as ’Monti Mai’ and ’Fest’ translating to ’Feast of Mary of the Mount’. The churches’ thinking through the ages in various areas has been to inculcate and preserve the local culture, so other interpretations too are valid. This fest may have been brought here from Goa or other places but it has adapted to fit in very well the Tuluva norms. It has held them in good stead over time and these Konkani speakers fused in harmony with the local cultures, to a seamless harmonious population of all proud citizens. Since the agriculture is disappearing fast, there is a query on the minds of orthodox people right now that how will this tradition shape in the future with rapid industrialisation.