By Dr Eugene DSouza, Moodubelle

Udupi, Sep 8: The feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Monthi Fest) was celebrated with devotion and fervor in St Lawrence Church Moodubelle on Sunday, September 8 at 8 am. As the morning was bright due to the absence of rain, parishioners including children in their best of the dresses attended the feast in large numbers. Children were seen carrying plastic baskets and plates filled with flowers. 

As I entered the church, I could see the church well decorated, bundles of fresh paddy corn stocked in front of the crib of infant Mary and a large colourful rangoli prepared out of the petals of different flowers under the direction of Fr Raj, Principal of St Lawrence English Medium High School, Moodubelle in front of the main altar in preparation of the  feast of the Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary added the aura of the festive mood.

Though it had rained during the night, the morning was bright. Fr Joswey Fernandes, parish priest of St Lawrence Church, Moodubelle announced that as there was no sign of rain, as in the previous years  the new paddy would be blessed on the Cross Hill and asked the assembled parishioners to proceed in procession to the Cross Hill.

Each members of the Parish Pastoral Council took a bundle of the new paddy and stood in front of the church and as the people inside the church lined up behind them, proceed to the Cross Hill. On reaching he Cross Hill, the members of the Parish Pastoral Council stood on two sides holding the paddy bundles as children lined up in front of the stage carrying the baskets and plates filled with flowers. The children were looking cute with beautiful dresses and carrying the flowers.

Fr Joswey Fernandes along with Fr Paul Sequeira, Fr Raj, Fr Charles Menezes, Fr Robert Lasrado (OFM-Cap) and Fr Dancy Martis (OFM-Cap) along with the altar servers went up the stage. Fr Joswey Fernandes recited prayers appropriate to the occasion and blessed the new paddy with holy water and incense. Thereafter, all went back to the church in procession for the solemn feast mass.

Fr Robert Lasrado (OFM-Cap) in his homily highlighted the role of Mother Mary in the mission of redemption of humankind by her son Jesus. He also pointed out how Mother Mary suffered silently during the passion and Crucifixion of Jesus. He said that Mother Mary is the role model to women in building devout and ideal families.

The Monthi Fest is also a family feast where family members participate in partaking the meal mixed with the new paddy. Fr Robert in his homily questioned whether the love and affection, caring and cooperation that were the hallmark of the joint families in earlier times are present in modern families? Further he said that modern families being single families, selfishness, ego and indifference have diluted the bond between extended family members.  He said that the family bond that existed in the past is no more strong enough to bind all the members of the family. He hoped that the fest of the Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary would rekindle the family bond.

Fr Robert also mentioned that the Church in India observes the day of the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary as  the Girls’ Day. It is the day when the importance of the girl child  in the family and society is properly understood.

During the offertory procession children as well as adults brought new vegetables and other items as offerings.

Following the end of the feast mass, Fr Joswey Fernandes extended the greetings of  the feast to all parishioners and thanked all those who had cooperated in the celebration of the Monthi Fest.

As in previous years, sugarcane sponsored by Gerald Fernandes  was distributed to children as well as adults.