Mangaluru, Aug 31, 2016: In keeping with age old tradition and historicity, all catholic churches in Mangaluru, Udupi, along the west coast and many places where Konkani Catholics live, even overseas; the nine days of preparation for the "Monthi Fest" the Birthday of Mary the Mother of Jesus Christ commenced on August 30, Tuesday. The pictures represented here are of the ceremony at Rosario Cathedral in the heart of the city. This church is considered as the first parish and mother church in the region and people could be seen participating with great enthusiasm.
The back ground of this tradition is as follows:
The Nine Days : The Novena , a nine day preparation for the feast commences from August 30. Particularly children gather flowers from the surroundings of their homes (or now from the market) and carry them to the church in pretty little baskets or trays. Then after mass, they gather around the decorated statuette of Infant Mary and shower it with flowers singing a special hymn in Konkani ’Sekked Sangatha Melian’ (Let us all gather together). Weather permitting, in the open yard of the church. Toddlers to grown ups take part actively with joy. It is a thrilling sight to behold, the older folks too enjoy the sight with nostalgic childhood memories!
THE INFANT MARY STATUETTE: This image first appeared in th 18th century according to a legend; About 1730, a Franciscan Nun, presented it to the Bishop of Como in Italy. On his death it was handed over to the Franciscan Nuns who developed great devotion among people to the ‘Infant Mary’. Due to Napoleon’s revolution when the monasteries were closed down, one of the nuns carefully saved it and handed it over to the Parish of St.Mark in Milan.
History indicates that in 1842 it was given to the ‘Sisters of Charity’ and installed in the Mother House and was exposed for devotions only on 8 September each year. In 1884 extraordinary happenings and miracles spread wide the devotion to Infant Mary. The first Italian nuns of this order came to assist Fr.Muller in Kankanady Hospital in 1898. A replica of the image was first brought to Mangalore by the ‘Sisters of Charity’ soon after and can still be seen at the Infant Mary Convent Chapel beside the Jeppu Seminary.