Mangaluru, September 2, 2016: Reports state that Konkani Catholics of DK and Udupi along with several places and overseas too; marked the third day of the nine day preparation for the "Monthi Fest" the Birthday of Mary the Mother of Jesus Christ on September 1, Thursday. The pictures represented here are of observances at the Bendur parish in the city, yesterday.
Bendur then a barren land came to be the base for a new parish in 1914; young Fr. Raymond F C Mascarenhas then in Udyavar was requisitioned to the new parish of Bendur, those times. It is seen that in the 17 years, till 1931 that he spent at Bendur it became a true Catholic centre of faith and development and is a very dynamic modern parish today. In 1921 he founded an indigenous order of nuns here, "Bethany Sisters" which is today a great order of nuns with HQ at Mangaluru spread not only in India but overseas too. Msgr.Raymond had introduced several novel ideas and means that have today come into the open, for example ’Environment and Bio-diversity’ were in his own way introduced in the many schools and convents and so on under Bethany-gardens, farms and many natural methods were a key occupation.
The pinnacle of Bendur parish is that it’s first parish priest Fr R F C Mascarenhas is the first Konkani Catholic of this area to be placed on the path to saint hood and is nearing the end of the first phase that of "Servant of God". The cottage he lived in is preserved with care to date and has now taken the shape of a museum which preserves the history of this great ’saint-in-waiting’.
History of Monthi Feast
The 9 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: Legend says this image first appeared in 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’ (now in Mangaluru a church is dedicated down below in Bikarnakatte). 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.