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Chicago, Sept 8:  The Mangalorean Konkan Christians Association celebrated its popular Monthi Fest -2007, which combines the Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary and blessing of new crops or "Novem" at the Courtland Square Community Center, Des Plaines, Illinois.
Holy Mass celebrated by Fr. Richie Vaz, Fr. Cyril Fernandes, Fr. Henry Sequeira and Fr Andrew Nazareth.

The program started by presenting an overview by Mrs. Vissia D'Souza, Chairperson of Monthi-fest committee. In her introduction, Vissia explained the significance of Monthi-fest, which is combined with the harvest festival and how it has been celebrated by the Mangalorean Catholics for the last few centuries in India.
Vissia stated that harvest festival is nothing but a sort of North American Thanksgiving, but here we thank Almighty for HIS abundance through Infant Mary. Vissia further explained how the harvest festival celebrated by different communities especially in India. She showed the relevance of Monthi-fest to Onam, Pongal (Makara Sankranthi), and Astami which are also celebrated by Indian communities during this season. 

Hindus celebrate similar program by preparing fresh vegetable food and rice varieties for their Krishna Jannashtami.
With this introduction, Vissia requested all attendees to gather outside the hall and enter in procession by singing "Sokkod Sanghatha Mellyam" It was amazing to see children with flowers leading the procession followed by adults and four Mangalorean priests, some of them have come as far as from the State of Kentuky. Inside the hall, children offered flowers to Infant Mary in an orderly manner by singing the hymn Moriyek Hogollshiyam. Within seconds volunteers cleared the flowers and set the stage for Holy Eucharist.

A welcome dance to the Holy Eucharist was performed by Melissa and Daphne Fernandes, daughters of James and Zita Fernandes to the tune of "Amazing Grace"  Dance was choreographed by Melissa herself. The devotional dance performance was so beautiful and couldn’t be performed any better!

The Holy Eucharist was celebrated by Fr.Richie Vaz in Konkani.  The Homily was delivered by Fr. Cyril Fernandes.  In his Homily Fr. Fernandes explained how Monthi Fest is celebrated back in Mangalorean Catholic community and socio-cultural significance of this celebration. 

Fr. Fernandes mulled over his childhood memories and how he used to gather flowers from neighboring gardens for "Novena" preceding the Monthi Fest. (It wasn't important to him how he used to get the flowers then, but it was important for him to reach the Church on time with flowers.) He said, it was the love for the celebration that made him to drive 300 miles this day. He highlighted the significance of Mother Mary and her simple, generous and giving nature and how she is considered as "Mother of All". 

Fr. Henry Sequeira blessed the new corn, offered by Amaranth Carvalho.  The MKCA Choir group headed by Dorothy Rego and Fr. Andrew Nazareth, sang wonderful Konkani Hymns.
As a mark of commencement of social program Stany D'Souza, President of MKCA, welcomed all the Priests and attendees present and wished them a happy Monthi Fest.  The "Novem" mixed with "Roce" was distributed to all the attendees present. Before partaking, Fr. Andrew Nazareth conducted a short prayer praising the Lord and thanking Lord for the new crop. He remembered all the near and dear ones, who are at home, abroad and are in heavenly abode on this auspicious thanks giving day.

All the attendees were thrilled to savor the appetizers Udache Ambade/chutney and Chole, specially prepared for this program by MKCA members.  There was open bar managed by Jossie Mendonca. 

During this "Happy Hour", there was impromptu singing of famous hit songs of Konkani, Hindi and English sung by Lynish Monis and family, who had arrived all the way from Kentucky, Crystal Rodrigues, Lilly Fernandes, Venessa D'Souza, Lawrence Mascarenhas, Lig Martis and Denzil Concesso.

This was followed by the unique Mangalorean style dinner coordinated by Mark Rodriguez, Secretary MKCA, consisting of multitude of vegetarian dishes:  Thendlim with Moy, Bhendam Masala, Moog and Keerl, Karathem, Alloo Dhento, Wainghem, Alsande Sango, Gosallem, Channe Sukhe, Cucumber Karumb, Sannam, Dallicho Saar, Vorn (dessert) and of course Rice!  All these mouth watering dishes were prepared by MKCA members and their families. 

As a traditional conclusion of the program, the attendees sang "Loudathe".  This program drew Mangaloreans far and near.  The arrangement for the hall was made by Lawrence Mascarenhas and was well decorated by Jossie Mendonca and Vissia D'Souza.  The DJ Nil, Anil D'Souza provided the required musical support in success of this program. 
Fr. Richie Vaz provided guidance in organizing the program.  The program was wonderfully compeered by Fr. Henry Sequeira.  There is no doubt that this event will remain as one of the most memorable one in the minds of all Mangaloreans who attended this program.

As usual, at the programs conclusion of the program, most of the participants hit the floor and danced to the tunes of Konkani, Hindi, Spanish and English songs.

Watch Nativity Feast Celebration Photo Albums: From Mangalore, Bangalore, Mumbai, Middle East, UK, USA, Canada.... Click Here

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