Buy Phula, Alu, Dento, Other Veggies Kodialchi Catholics Prepare for ‘Monthi Festh’
Buy Phula, Alu, Dento and other Veggies Catholics in Kodialchi prepare for ‘Monthi Festh’ on September 8
Mangaluru: A few days ago, Hindus were seen shopping for necessities needed for festivals like Sri Krishna (Krishnashtami) birthday celebrations, followed by Ganesh Chathurti, now it’s the turn of Mangalorean Catholics to buy the necessary vegetables, flowers and other essential products. to celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also locally called “Monthi Fest” by the Mangalorean Catholic community, which is also celebrated as a harvest festival like “Onam” of Kerala, “Pongal” of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. After a gloomy Monthi Fest last year due to the pandemic, this year local Catholics are all excited, especially children, to celebrate the Feast and lay flowers on Baby Mary.
According to local history, “Monthi Festh” originated in 1763 at Farangipet in the outskirts of Mangaluru. Here, Fr. Joachin Miranda, a Catholic priest with secular credentials from Goa, who lived about 250 years ago, started this practice on the top of a hill on the north bank of the Netravati River where there is a ancient place called Monte Moriano. Although Tippu Sultan destroyed the churches of Canara, he spared the church of Monte Mariano out of respect for his father Hyder Ali’s friendship with Father Miranda. Oral history indicates that the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady was first celebrated in Monte Moriano to coincide with the church’s annual feast. The term ‘Monthi’ is derived from the word ‘Monte’ and over the years it has been modified to be known as ‘Monthi Fest’. On this solemn occasion, Catholics participate in a community feast or a family feast featuring only vegetarian dishes.
The celebration usually starts nine days in advance with novena prayers to Mother Mary, during which time little children are especially proud to offer flowers every day – and this year the novena started on August 30. The great celebration of Monti Festh takes place with traditional gaiety and religious fervor in all the churches tastefully decorated for the occasion. Special masses, feasts, religious ceremonies and a series of festivities in churches, parishes and homes are on the agenda. On this special day, members of the Catholic community bring the freshly grown paddy stalks to their respective churches as an offering of nature’s first bounty to Mother Mary. Special prayers are offered to implore the Blessed Mother to guard the fertility of nature for generations to come and to provide all of nature’s bounties to the children of the world.
It is a tradition in Mangaluru that families get together and share a vegetarian meal consisting of at least five vegetarian dishes. Sorry, no Dukhra and Soro mass! The “alu-dento” and “vorn” dishes are a must in every home. Grains taken from blessed rice or corn stalks are added to milk or “vorn” and offered to family members in a symbolic gesture of thanksgiving for Our Lady’s blessings. The festival has special significance in the modern world as it maintains community not only in southern Canara (Dakshina Kannada) and the city of Mangaluru, but in all the different continents where Mangalorean Catholics have settled. They continue to celebrate the feast of Monti in every way possible in their country and enjoy the nostalgia linked to their own families and parishes at home.
As a child, I remember picking flowers from the garden and also from the neighborhood, and carrying them to church on a dish/plate – but these days children have the privilege of carrying the flowers in fancy baskets, which are sold in various stores, and they are selling like hot cakes. Images of the infant Virgin Mary are seen in large numbers in these stores, especially at Jerosa Company and Milagres Company, at Hampankatta in the city. . Even the vegetable markets/shops have stocked all the vegetables needed by the Catholic faithful for the big family feast on September 8. Florists have done booming business during this time of year, when few Hindu festivals have just ended, and have added for them, now the Catholic holiday “Monti Fest”.
It is therefore also a celebration representing the symbol of family unity. This festival is celebrated with joy and happiness as it is also the harvest festival, a time when the farmer prepares the harvest for the year. Monti Fest is the celebration of family ties, filial relationships and a party that makes us realize that we are an integral part of the nature around us, bringing us closer to Mother Nature. The specialty is that we venerate and celebrate the birthday of Mother Mary because she is the mother of the Messiah the Savior, Redeemer Lord Jesus Christ. Then automatically, as Jesus is the son of God, she also becomes our heavenly mother. It is truly amazing to see that all Konkani Catholics unite wherever they are across the globe with the same spirit and zeal and make it their duty to celebrate this great Monti fest all over the world.
There is no doubt that Monti Festh is gaining popularity all over the world these days as it is celebrated in every city with a large population of Konkani speaking people. The singing of hymns, ‘Sakkad Sangatha Melyam’ and ‘Moriyek Hogolsyam’ is an integral part of Monti Fest. People feel blessed and happy when paying homage to Mother Mary on her birthday. One of the first Monti Fesths was celebrated at the town’s Milagres Church in 1906.
TEAM MANGALOREAN WISHES OUR KODIYAL CATHOLICS A HAPPY ‘MONTHI SAIBEEN FESTH’!