Mangalore, Sep 8, 2012: The Christian community of Mangalore celebrated the Nativity Feast, a festival to commemorate the birth of Mary, the mother of Jesus, with great joy and devotion today.
The festive procession of the Bambina of Infant Mary began simultaneously from Bendoorwell and Bajjodi at St. Sebastian Church in Bendoor. The people marched in the procession holding paddy corns and the children threw colorful flowers all along the way.
Flowers were offered to the Bambina of Infant Mary at around 8:00 a.m. and the festive mass began 15 minutes later.
The Catholic community of Mangalore celebrates its harvest feast as the birthday of Mary every year on September 8. A novena of 9 days is held before the festival, and everyday, children shower flowers on the grotto of Mother Mary in their respective churches.
The parishes of Milagres, Bejai, Kulshekar, Urwa, and other parishes all over Mangalore celebrated the festival grandly. Places of worship such as Fathima Retreat House and Infant Jesus Shrine resounded with the melodious tunes of hymns to Mary, especially the popular hymn “Sokkad Sangata Mellyan.”
All parishes held a nine-day novena, during which children offered flowers to Infant Mary, prior to the festival. Each parish also organized a colorful procession of parishioners on the feast day, followed by a festive mass and celebrations. The first grain was brought to the altar in a procession and blessed by the parish priest. Items such as vegetables, sugarcane, fruits, flowers, and bread and wine were also carried in the procession and blessed by the parish priest. After the mass, the sugarcane and paddy was distributed among all the people of the parish.
In their homes, Mangalorean Catholics prepare a special vegetarian meal and eat it off plantain leaf plates. Powdered first grain is mixed with milk and served to all the members of the family as a sign of unity and love.
Mangalorean Catholics worldwide celebrate the Nativity with great devotion.