Mangalore August 30, 2014: In and around Mangalore, the end of August is the ending of the SW 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, Dusserah, Onam - and also ’Monthi Festh/ Maria Jayanthi’ , the Birthday of Mary, Mother of Christ Jesus, traditionally September 8. The Konkani community irrespective of religion adopted Coastal Canara as their home centuries ago. This year the rains are unusual and still continuing in this region.
From Kasargod to Karwar, the observance of the nine day run up to the ’Festh’ Novena (9 days to Sept.8), starts from August 30 and is special. Children are the main stay with adults nostalgic too. This has now spread not only to other parts of India but also overseas where enthusiastic Mangaloreans are found. Commencing August 30, each year; The treasured statuette of ’Infant Mary’ is brought out given a make over with new finery and decoration. In each church in this region, a special programme as per the need is arranged each day in the morning or evening (in Mangalore city we see it in the evening). Children gather flowers from the surroundings of their homes and so on (or from the market these days) and carry them to the church in pretty little baskets or trays. Then after the prayers, they gather around the decorated statuette of Infant Mary and shower it with the flowers three times singing a favorite hymn in Konkani- “Sekkad Sagatha Mellia” means ‘let us all get together’ along with other hymns. This takes place weather permitting in the open yard of the church. Toddlers to high school kids take part actively and elders too. All eagerly look forward to the sweets and snacks distributed at the end. It is a thrilling sight to behold and the older folks too enjoy the sight with nostalgic memories! The ’Monthi Festh’ follows with special traditions on September 8 - a red letter day for Konkani Catholics the world over!