Mangaluru, Aug 31, 2019: The Konkani Catholics of Kanara not only all over India but in countless pockets the world over, have launched the first day of the 9 day Novena preparation for ’Monthi Fest’, on August 30, Friday. It is a traditional family harvest festival falling each year on September 8, the Birthday of Mother Mary, who is accorded a prominent place in the church, as the mother of Jesus Christ who was born on earth to bring salvation to mankind.
August 30th, evening saw all churches in the city and our skirts filled with children carrying flowers in ornamental baskets and trays. Solemn mass was held and it was followed by traditional offering of flowers to the Infant Mary image. In spite of the rain it is held in the church grounds under a suitable cover or inside the church.
In keeping with age old tradition and historicity, all catholic churches in Mangaluru, Udupi, and Kanara and places where Konkani Catholics live, even overseas; the nine days of preparation for the "Monthi Fest" commenced on August 30. 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, the arrival of Catholicism on the shores of Mangaluru is traced from 1568 AD.
The back ground :
Nine Days : The Novena , a nine day preparation for the feast, 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). Toddlers to elders take part actively with joy. It is a thrilling sight to behold, the aged folks enjoy the sight with nostalgic childhood memories!
Infant Mary Statuette : The infant Mary image used on this occasion, first appeared in the 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 September 8, 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. In recent times a new church has come up in Bajjodi dedicated to the ’Infant Mary’ and people visit this church with great faith all year round.