Mangaluru, Sep 08, 2018: All catholic churches and institutions in Mangaluru, Udupi, and along the west coast and many places where Konkani Catholics live, even overseas; are celebrating "Monthi Feast" the Birthday of Mary the Mother of Jesus Christ. The feast here is also referred to as "Maria Jayanthi", September 8, Saturday. The ceremony at Rosario Cathedral is special, this church is considered as the first parish and mother church in the region, this year it marks 450 years of the arrival of Catholicism on the shores of Mangaluru, 1568-2018.
The Bishop of Mangalore, Rev Dr. Aloysius P.D’souza, who has served his people for 22 years is all set to pass on the baton in a very solemn celebration next Saturday September 15, forenoon - this has increased the joy of the people; The preparations all over the city are progressing in a very high profile manner with all leaders and communities co-operating. Today the focus is on ’Monthi Festh’. The Bishop presided over the liturgy at the Rosario Cathedral at 8 am, it was preceded by a procession from Mangaladevi area from where Mangaluru gets it’s name.
The people participated with great devotion every where; The Bishop was assisted by Rev. J B Crasta the dean and all the priests serving at the parish. The rain played hide and seek but it did not create too much trouble. The Bishop pointed out that people all over the country are suffering due to heavy rain and floods, "God has spared us so let us give thanks and pray for those in trouble. Today the church celebrates the ’girl child’ and the Birth of Mary the mother of Christ is a special day of blessings for the Catholics here who mark it as ’Monthi Festh’ and give thanks for God’s gifts to humans for the harvest that He blesses all with. Mary is honoured every where, many churches, institutions, religious congregations and so many pilgrim places where miracles take place regularly, have brought great love and attraction. Let us all pray today, that the Episcopal ordination of the new bishop next Saturday, September 15, be successful and blessed by God". In view of his being the head of the Cathedral Church and diocese of Mangalore, he was accorded a special felicitation by the people of the Parish and priests.
The new Bishop to be Rev.Dr. Peter Paul Saldanha, who hails from Kirem near Kinnigoli, celebrated the Mass and family celebrations at Kirem church at 8 am. A report on Mangalore Today web will follow soon.
On this special occasion, messages by both the Bishops follow :
From : The Present Bishop Rev Dr. Aloysius P D’Souza : "Mother Mary played an important role in the salvation history, therefore God created her free from original sin. The birth of Mother Mary proclaims God’s love to the world. Her faith filled life is the model for all Christians. Celebrating her birthday as new corn day or family feast is a great privilege for us. Therefore let us honour Mary, accept her queenship in our families as we dine together. May
Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for us. I wish you a happy feast of Nativity".
From : The Bishop Elect Rev Dr. Peter Paul Saldanha : "Mother Mary is the most beautiful and perfect creation among all creations of God. She is the mother of our Lord Jesus and the first love of the world. As the feast of Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated as girl child day in the church lets pray for girls who are exploited and deprived of the rights to live in the society and we pledge to protect them. Let our family bonds be strengthened as we come together and share the meal with the new corn. I wish you all a happy feast of nativity".
The History :
On the west West coast of India, Kanara, Mangaluru, Udupi, Karwar Konkan, are well known for their ancient catholic roots. Just as August ends, soon after the Tuluva Aati, the SW monsoon looses it’s force, a resplendent green time for all communities is visible. Harvest is looked forward to; the traditional agrarian legacy and heritage surfaces. Janamashatami, Ganesh Chathurthi, Onam.and Monthi Festh (Feast of the Mount), Maria Jayanthi, all celebrate natures bounty. The Konkani community irrespective of religion, adopted West Coast of the sub-continent as their home centuries ago. Early in the sixteenth century the Portuguese conquered Goa and soon they entered Canara the domain of Tuluva Sri Krishna Deva Raya of Vijayanagara. They first set up Our Lady of the Rosary Church near the Old Mangalore Port or Bundar also called the ’Factory Church’, now known as ’Rosario’ Cathedral in Mangaluru as well as the ’Monte Mariano’ Monastary in Farangipete to the east on the banks of Nethravathi.
’Monthi Festh’ Sept 8 :
The feast day September 8, The new paddy arrives from the fields which are very rare and far out today. It is only the goodness and generosity of a few that this is still possible for the parishes here. The blessing of the Nove - New Rice Corn and first fruits gathered from the fields, a sight bringing back the struggle and values of family and community. A festive Mass is celebrated in the Parish churches, the new rice paddy sheaves are brought to the church in a procession by the Gurkars (leaders) along with sugarcane, fruit and vegetables and solemnly blessed by the priests. Later, the ’Blessed Corn’ is distributed to the adults present, the children are given a whole big ’sugar cane’, some times all can get sugarcane! There is a general festive spirit in the air amidst exchange of Greetings, and the focus shifts to homes and families.
The social focus of this unique festival draws a parallel to local traditions of the ancient Canara farming and agrarian traditions of the region and the harvest meal partaken in the family home by the many family members is special. It is always entirely a purely vegetarian fare with odd number of vegetable dishes usually 7,9,11, 13......and so on. A special prayerful tradition is observed: The ’Nove’ newly blessed rice paddy is crushed and mixed with sweetened coconut milk drink. There is much devotion and gratitude to God and providers. The Festh, has become a virtual global observance among Kanara communities in Gulf Countries,Canada, US, UK, Australia,Africa and more. It is evolving as a link identifying the Konkani Catholics and other groups are formulating suitable variations to suit individual visions. The recent encyclical of Pope Francis ’Laudato Si’ is seen as a great means to broaden the vision of the church to encompass local nature and goodness to Godliness. The good resulting out of such sacred local observances of eternal value and Blessings remain indelible for generations.
Captivity episode 1784-99 :
For the Catholic Konkani community, this ’Festh’ got a boost post 1799, after Tipu’s captivity of the Konkani Catholics ended. The migration of Saraswats (Konkanis) to Mangalore and beyond and the identity conversion that took hold over the years is a continual epic. The peace treaty between Tipu Sultan and the English peace commissioners on 11 March 1784 in Mangalore was the signal for putting into execution Tipu’s draconian orders for the arrest and deportation of the Konkani Christians of Kanara specially around Mangalore, to Srirangapatna.
Records reveal the names and home towns of some of the original captives. Tipu died fighting on the ramparts of his fort in Srirangapatna near Mysore on 4th May 1799. Only then did the survivors of the captivity gain freedom and gradually return and rebuild their lives and the community - the first half of 1800s were crucial. The present Konkani Catholics now seen world wide are mostly descendants of those who returned from the 15 year captivity of Tipu or those who escaped the capture. Starting 1800s, the 19th century was a new chapter rising from the ashes for the Konkani Catholics, they are determined to do well and are blessed.
The Image - Maria Jayanthi : The infant Mary image 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. Most Konkani Catholics will use the blessed corn and farm produce to join in for a traditional vegitarian meal on plantain leaves as did their ancestors of ’Saraswat’ roots more than 5 centuries ago. The ’Monthi Festh’ is a family harvest celebration giving thanks to God, nature and agriculturist for the produce of food for life and the goodness of the earth.
Monthi Feast Celebrated at Milagres Church
112th Nativity feast of Mother marry under the leadership of by Monthi saibeen Feast Committee Attavar Celebrated today at Milagres Church Mangalore. It was a grand celebration organized by Monthi saibeen Feast Committee under the leadership President Ivan Fernandes and secretary Mr Nygel Pereira.
Procession started at the residence of Mr Nygel Pereira. Mother marry Statue was blessed By Rev Fr Valerian Parish Priest of Milagres and Assistant parish Rev Fr Edwin. Prior to this nine days Novena was held at their Residence by Ward members and Monthi saibeen Ward committee. Procession began from the Attavar BV Road Junction at 7.30 PM. Hundreds of devotees participated in the procession followed by Tablo of Mother marry. Milagres Parish has this unique tradition of the procession which was followed from last 122 years.
At Church ground Procession was welcomed by parishioners. New Corn was blessed. Children offered the flowers to mother marry and Holy Eucharist Mass was celebrated.
During the ceremony Father said “The feast of Mother marry started at 5th century at Seria which was followed by whole universe. As we do not have exact place where it was started .In France a Poor farmer had a dream and Angels came in his dream and said that e mother Mary birthday has to be celebrated on Sept 8th the same message he conveyed to the Bishop and feast started. Today every Catholics in India has three mothers. One Mother marry, second our own mother and 3rd Our Nature. We should give importance to protect our nature today our nature poisoned with Poison. This will leads to self-destruction of human we all will lose our life if we do not protect our nature.”
Soon after the mass New Crop was distributed to all followed by sugar cane.
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