Media Release

Pics by: Jerson Marques

Toronto, Sep 20: “Monthi Fest” or the Nativity of our Lady elicits a magical effect on the psyche of the Konkani Catholics around the globe. It evokes a flood of fond nostalgic memories in their minds of sugarcane, sticky candy, borrowing flowers from the neighborhood, delicious meals from freshly harvested vegetables and so on. Through the years many lovely customs and folk traditions have evolved around this feast such as the blessing of the new corn, showering of flowers to Infant Mary, consuming the grains of the new harvest in a cup of milk or sweet “Vorn”, and eating a variety of vegetarian dishes at the festive meal. This heartwarming harvest feast celebrates and culminates the hard work of the Konkan farmers with to the birthday of dear Mother Mary.

The Mangalorean Association of Canada (MAC) which comprises of the Konkani Catholic community of Greater Toronto celebrated the “Monthi Fest” on Sunday, 14th September 2014 with devotion and splendor at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Mississauga. Parents and children assembled in the evening at Pope John Paul II hall to honor the Infant Mary. The program commenced with a welcome note by Gerry D’Mello who assumed the leadership for the processional arrangements. A solemn procession of tiny tots and little children carrying plates of flowers entered the hall and they eagerly placed flowers in honor of Mother Mary to the great tune of “sokkod sangatha mellyam” and “Moriyek Hogolsiyan”. Lancy John Rodrigues, the Spiritual Coordinator of MAC led the novena prayers. Rev. Fr. Terrence Dias conducted the ceremony of blessing the “Bambino” (the statue of Infant Mary), new sheaves of grain, Muddhom Candles and the Rosaries. The community gathered there were thrilled to see this display of enthusiasm and devotion not only from the adults but from the children as well.

The High Mass in Konkani concelebrated at St. Maximilian Kolbe church in the presence of Most Reverend Leo Cornelio, Arch-Bishop of Bhopal, India of Kalyanpur/Mangalore origin (the main celebrant), Most Reverend Henry D’Souza, Bishop of Bellary, India of Kinnigoli/Mangalore origin. Most Reverend Lawrence John Saldanha, Arch-Bishop Emeritus of Lahore of Mangalore origin could not make it due to ill-health. The co-celebrants were Rev. Fr. Edwin D’Souza, the spiritual director of MAC, Fr. Henry Alva, Fr. Andrew Lewis, Fr.Terrence Dias, Fr.Lancy Lobo and Fr.Mark Andre Campbell.

The church reverberated with the voices of the faithful and the magnificence and significance of the feast was evident in the huge crowd gathered. The altar decorations, the altar servers and the festive ambience of the church were really soul-elevating and added to the solemnity of the event. The walls of the church resonated with the mellifluous singing of the Konkani choir conducted by Merlyn Rodrigues. The homily delivered by Bishop Rt.Rev.Dr.Henry D’Souza was very enlightening and thought provoking. Overall, the whole atmosphere was so devotional and captivating that the congregation felt that they were attending a Eucharistic celebration back home in their native towns and villages. During the Holy Mass Arch-bishop Leo Cornelio presented “Muddhom Candles” to the sponsors who generously supported the event.

After the Mass there was the distribution of the blessed grain and rosaries to all the families of the Eucharistic celebration. The children received chocolate treats in lieu of the traditional sugarcane.

The cultural program commenced at Pope John Paul II hall with a hearty welcome that was extended to an overwhelmingly full hall by the emcee, Manohar Pais. With his charming and inimitable style, Manohar built a rapport with the audience. Ronald Fernandes, the dynamic President of MAC, welcomed the audience to the celebration of the Monthi Fest and the cultural program. He highlighted the accomplishments of MAC and thanked the clergy, sponsors, volunteers and guests for their time, selfless sacrifices, time and energy. Seneca Rego, a budding Bharat Natyam artiste in Canada, gave an awe-inspiring Indian dance performance to the tune of a Konkani hymn.

The highlight of the program was a Konkani skit “Monthi Mayechem Ajjeap” (Miracle of our Blessed Virgin Mary) written by Konkani’s veteran writer Naveen Kulshekar and directed by renowned Konkani artiste Manohar Pais and enacted by the actor par-excellence Violet Pais, Laveena D’Souza, Gerry D’Mello and the renowned comedians of Santhu-Monthu fame Santosh D’Souza and Rony Monteiro. Each actor is to be commended for their unique accomplishment as the skit was a resounding success and appreciated by all.

As part of the MAC mandate to promote and encourage youth in the field of education, the UAE Exchange Scholarship of $500 was awarded to Dixon D’Cunha by Gurpreet Singh Bedi of UAE Exchange. The scholarship award ceremony was led by Janet D’Souza, the vibrant Vice-President of MAC.

Bishop Henry D’Souza delivered a key address giving a dynamic foresight for the entire community especially for the younger generation. Roy Castelino, the President of Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Parishad & Konkani Prachar Sanchalan who was the guest of honor in his speech stressed on importance of speaking of our mother tongue Konkani with our children.

Konkan Delite catered a traditional all-vegetarian meal with the highlight of the meal being the delicious “Pothrade” and the traditional dessert, ‘Vorn’. The guests commended the quality and taste of the authentic meal. Raffle prizes were announced and the evening ended with a solo Konkani song by Canada’s budding Singing sensation Linton Pinto and Konkani baila followed by Laudate by the acclaimed Konkani singers in Canada comprising of Anita Prabhu, Sonia Monteiro, Violet Pais, Lucy D’Mello, Manohar Pair, Wilson D’Souza & Gerry D’Mello. Leon Lobo is to be commended for organizing an outstanding presentation in appreciation of sponsors, the clergy and including key points of the events. Jerome Cardoza, the Cultural Coordinator ensured that the program ran smoothly and was seamless. A BIG salute to all the sponsors, members and the volunteers who worked diligently and tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure a tremendously successful Monthi Fest 2014!.