By Janet D’Souza
Pics: Cynthia Lewis and Suneetha D’Souza
Mississauga/Canada, Jul 4: Anxious eyes scanned the weather network a week prior and frantic looks and prayers were raised towards the skies hoping for balmy temperatures and no rain. It was, after all, MAC’s annual family get together time. The day dawned, the sun shone, a light breeze gently drifted, and Mangalurean families and friends came in droves to attend the annual picnic organised by the Mangalorean Association of Canada (MAC) on June 25, at the Meadowvale Conservation Park, Mississauga. Given that the Annual Family picnic was happening after two long years of pandemic restrictions, it was as if God himself provided this beautiful day uplifting the spirits and moods of all who attended. Children, parents, seniors, and youth brought their picnic baskets, umbrellas, soccer balls and most of all, their enthusiasm and liveliness.
Ronald D’Souza led a prayer to God Almighty for his wonderful blessings and Maxim D’Mello, president of MAC announced the official opening of the family picnic. The festivities began with the quint essential games such as passing the parcel, lemon/spoon race and sack race for children and young adults. The 3-legged race tested the agility and balance of the teenagers who hopped, straggled, or ran towards the finish line. Not to be outdone, some adults participated wholeheartedly in the sack race and there were some grand and embarrassing moments as the participants tumbled, slipped, and ran the race of their lives. The seniors were not to be left out and they showed their enthusiasm and mettle in bean toss game as they aimed the beans with precision to get the highest points. The water balloon throw is one of the most popular organized games among all people and this year, there was a serpentine queue of participants. As the line up was formed, participants coached their partners on throwing and catching techniques. With much yelling and screaming and at the blow of the whistle, the balloons toss went back and forth between the partners. It was supremely gratifying to watch the intent expressions on the competitors face as they focused on getting the balloon across without dropping it. Nevertheless, landing the balloon was not always successful and drenched the unfortunate, but the lucky winners were the ones who were able to catch the water balloon without breaking it.
The focus of the event is to bring the community together, make new friends and have fun in a family setting. In every game, there are winners and losers but at the MAC get together, there were no losing teams. The volleyball and throw ball games generated great competitive and friendly spirits as spectator’s yelled encouragement to the teams. People participated wholeheartedly and enjoyed a fun filled game of throw ball and volleyball. Tug of War – that Olympian heavy rope symbolizing sheer brute strength, technique and collaboration mobilized men, women, and teens to gird their loins and put on their best performance. As a final challenge, a gauntlet was thrown to have a men Vs women contest. The challenge was accepted – men against women in a test of strength, strategy, and numbers. Women were yet again the winners in this sport of might and numbers. MAC thanked all the volunteers especially Violet Pais, Vidya Alvares, Louella Cardoza, Leo D’Cunha, Prescilla D’Souza, Carrol D’Souza, Pamela Soans, Sam Soans, Reginald Fernandes and Charles D’Souza for their help and conducting the games.
The medley of games and all the exercise made the participants and their families very hungry. With a prayer, lunch commenced with an array of delicious buffet dishes of Mangalorean foods such as pork Indad, and Sannas as well as other delectable items such as samosas, noodles, salads, and vegetables. Dessert was the delicious traditional Vorn. Made with coconut milk, jaggery, lentils and nuts and prepared by Ronald and Suneetha D’Souza, it was the perfect finale to a sumptuous meal. After a brief respite and some more team games, fresh and sweet slices of watermelon were served by Paul and Irene Mathias. This was a long-time ritual that was much anticipated and awaited with the crisp juicy watermelon providing just the right amount of freshness to the heat and palates.
While the team events and sports were being conducted, MAC members and volunteers guided by Janet D’Souza prepared masala chai. The wafting fragrance and aroma of ginger, cardamom, cinnamon,and mint attracted a long line up of people for an evening cuppa and cookies. Replete and content with the chai, it was time for Bingo. Led by Ronald Fernandes, sports coordinator of MAC, and Maxim D’Mello, people eagerly anticipated taking home some well earned money. With the completion of Bingo, it was time to gradually conclude a massively successful picnic. As the sun descended into the distance, people folded their umbrellas, gathered their belongings, waved goodbye and left tired yet smiling and happy to be part of a community sharing in the joys of being outdoors with family and friends. A huge shout out to Cynthia Lewis, whose camera and photographic skills captured memorable, animated, and priceless momentsduring the get tpgether. MAC appreciated the great efforts and work of the EC members and families and the volunteers who collaborated to accomplish a sensational and fun event.