Mangaluru, Sep 08, 2018: The Monthi Feast, a Konkani tradition of harvest Thanksgiving on the ’Birthday of Mother Mary’ in the agricultural hinterland of Kanara was a indeed a very joyful affair this September 8, Saturday morning.
A son of the soil, whose cradle was Kirem, headed the celebration at the parish church, he was the apple of all eyes for he Rev.Dr. Peter Paul Saldanha, who grew up in this very parish lived, studied and was inspired to join the church from here now having accepted the appointment from Pope Francis to be the 14th Bishop of Mangalore. All the people of the Diocese are awaiting his Episcopal Consecration just a week away, on September 15, at Rosario Cathedral in Mangalore. He the new bishop chose to be with his roots on this harvest thanksgiving to glorify and submit to the Lord and his divine mother. It brought a lot of Joy to people of simple nature who have toiled for preserving nature.
The solemn Eucharist was celebrated after blessing the new corn from the fields of Kirem Rev.Dr. P P Saldanha, was assited by Rev Fr. Victor D’Mellow, (who happens to be his batch mate in St.Joseph’s Seminary Jeppu and was ordained with his at Bijey Church in May 6, 1991) and several other priests were present. The Bishop to be said that it was all God’s will that he should be appointed Bishop of Mangalore, he had no choice but to bow to His will. He said Mother Mary has always been a Mother to him and he is confident of her ever guiding spirit to protect and bless the people and his future role to lead the Diocese. It is significant that this his own parish is dedicated to the ’Mother of Remedies’ and she provides remedies for all, and will do so for time to come.
Kirem Parish :
The origin of Kirem parish is surrounded in primordial confusion which is not unusual. But, historical glimpses on the origins are strong, such materials as a palm leaf manuscript which states that in 1730 A. D. Chennaraya Samantha, a feudal lord of the Nayaks of Keladi and the then Chief of Mulky, permitted the sale of land at Kadukambla of Aikala village for the construction of a church for ’Santa-Maria’. The Text of the palm leaf runs thus in Kannada. "History tells us that when Tipu Sultan led the Christians into captivity to Srirangapatna, near Mysore, on the fateful, February 24, 1784, churches and Christians were captured, enslaved and many were converted to Islam." Further, it is seen that the parish of Kirem might have been established between 1730 (purchase of land for the church ) and 1759 when Fr. Alvares came and stayed here for more that two years. Perhaps the Parish had its origin in the 1740s. An interesting etymological meaning of the word ‘Quirem’ is given in other documents, elderly local people opine that the name Quirem might have come from the word ’Kere or Kire’ (a lake in Tulu Language). They point to the existence of a big lake, the traces of which are discerned, in the area called Bata, on the eastern side of the church, and that the church came to be called the ’church of the lake’ in Tulu ’Kire-da- Ingreji’. Oral tradition gained credibility among the people, in the absence of any historical evidence. In fact, even now, persons who are in their eighties say, that they can recall the history, as told by their ancestors, only after the second Anglo-Mysore War, the 1784 and captivity.
Captivity and Kirem Parish: Oral tradition and recorded history tell us that many Christians of Kirem Parish were taken captives to Srirangapatna by Tipu in 1784 and that the Kirem church was demolished. When a priest called “Fr. Paulinus visited Kirem in 1794, he found the church in ruins” . It is narrated that when the parishioners of Kirem were being taken into captivity, a boy of Saldanha family was hidden by a Bunt Shetty family. The boy was looked after by the Bunts as a member of their own family. Later, when the family of the boy returned he was restored to his family by the Bunts. A noteworthy matter in Kirem Parish dating back to the period of captivity of Christians needs to be mentioned; when the Christians of Kirem were taken captives, Tippu’s men ordered the local Hindus to dismantle the building of Kirem church and transport its tiles, timber and even stones of the walls to Ghazni (Mulky) to build a palatial house for a prominent Muslim there. Accordingly tiles and timber were carried to Ghazni. But the Patel of Talipady village, a bunt and a few other prominent Bunts secretly instructed the men involved in the dismantling of the church to break the stones deliberately while detaching them from the walls. Then they reported the matter to Tipu’s men that the stones of the church wall couldn’t be detached without breaking them. This was done to save the Hindus from the burden of carrying the stones to Ghazni which is 10kms. away from Kirem, and also to save the stone structure of the church. Later after 1799, and return of the catholics, it was re-roofed first a thatched one, and later a tiled one. As a mark of gratitude towards the Bunts for saving the stone structure of the church, even to this day, on the day of Kirem parish feast candles of honour, betel leaves , areca-nuts and a bunch of plantains are given to the Bunts families. The bunt descendants, receive them with devotion and pride.
In his book on the history of South Kanara, the reputed Prof A L P D’Souza, states (Page 26/27), The notes of Msgr Julian D’Souza narrates an old document shows there were 4 Varados and 21 churches in Kanara before 1816. He adds that the records say they existed from the time of the Qeen of Canara - 1671-97. the 4 Varados were: 1. Onore (Honnavar), 2. Barcelore (Basrur), 3.Mulki and 4. Mangalore. The prominent churches were at Honnavar, Sunkeri, Kumta, Barcelore, Gangoli, Nagar, Kallyanpur, Nirlavar, Mulki, Shirva, Kirem, Karkal, Rosario and Milagres in Mangalore, Pezar, Hospet, Ullal, Omzoor, Bantwal, Agrar, Mogarnad mainly. Among the well known historical record known as "George Vas Papers", there is a list of the names of Vicars Forane and Vicars appointed by Goa in 1799, after the return of Catholic captives from Srirangapatna. Further, on page 34/35, of the book, it states, that the ’Chauta Raja" of Moodbidri pleaded for some Catholics as they were his tenants. Some families were left because ’paan’ (betel-leaf) was a necessity for the solders of Tipu and the Christians had a monopoly on the know-how of cultivation. The well known local historian of early times, says in his book "Captivity of Kanara Christians at Seringapatam" - that the Omzoor Saldanha Prabhu family was not taken to Seringapatam. In this way many families in Kallyanpur, Kirem, Shirva, Omzoor and so on escaped, but lived incognito due to fear. Many oral legends and folklore exist which could be very interesting to study. Many other accounts too exists but cannot be accommodated here. It is very unique and noteworthy, that as per preliminary information, Kirem has gifted 3 of it’s sons so far to be Bishops in the Church. 1. Rt Rev.Raymond D’mellow (1959-1964). 2. Rt Rev Dr. Robert Miranda, Bishop of Gulbarga. and now 3. Rt. Rev.Dr. Peter Paul Saldanha. The new Bishop hailing from Kirem now, is indeed a fresh era for Mangalore, there is much faith among the people of the region. It was indeed a great day of rejoicing for all people of Kirem parish (near Kinnigoli), Dr. Peter Paul Saldanha, hails from Aikala Village, Kirem parish.