Konkani Community Monthi Fest 2022

10th September, 2022

flower shower 2.PNG

The 10th of September 2022 saw a large gathering of over 150 faithful of the Konkani Community at St Margaret Mary's Catholic Church, Croydon Park. It was the occasion of “Monthi Fest” as it is popularly known in Mangalore, Karnataka and as “Monte Saibinnichem Festa” in Goa, both places being part of the Konkan region on the west coast of India.

This feast is normally held on the 8th of September to celebrate the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The celebration of the feast in India began in Goa in 1513 with the construction of the Capela de Nossa Senhora do Monte (The chapel of Our Lady of the Mount) under orders from Afonso de Albuquerque, the commander of the Portuguese army. This chapel on a hilltop (monte) is in the vicinity of the Bom Jesus Basilica where the body of St Francis Xavier, having resisted extensive decay, is kept. The feast was then popularized by Fr. Joachim Miranda, a Goan Catholic priest, in Farangipet, Mangalore in 1763 at the Monte Mariano Church built by the Portuguese in 1568. The feast is associated in Mangalore and surrounding regions with the harvest festival and offerings of the crops and produce are made to God during Mass.

The liturgical celebration began with prayers by Archbishop Patrick O'Regan on the lawns where a statue of the infant Mary was placed and included two iconic Mangalorean hymns “Sakkad Sangatha Melya” and “Moriyek Hogolsiya”. This was followed by an affectionate shower of flowers towards the statue, first by the children and then by the adults. The congregation then re-gathered in the church for the Mass by Archbishop Patrick O'Regan and concelebrated by Fr Lancy D'Silva CSC, Fr Santosh Pereira MSFS, both Konkani speaking priests and Fr Anthoni Adimai SdM. A pre-Mass video compiled especially for the occasion traced the Biblical history of the significance of the occasion to the Promise made by God to Abraham and declared by Mary herself in the Gospel of Luke. The magnificence of both the Monte Chapel in Goa and the Monte Mariano church at Farangipet were beautifully captured. Archbishop Patrick emphasized God’s faithfulness to Abraham and the generations culminating in the birth of Lord Jesus the Saviour to Mary.

The Konkani choir made an enthusiastic recital of hymns both in Konkani and English. Juliet Goveas and Blaise Fernandes of the Mangalorean and Goan Konkani community respectively, thanked Archbishop Patrick and the concelebrating priests as well as the members of the community who were present for the massive efforts to make the Mass as well as the lunch and variety program a great success.

A traditional welcome drink of crushed rice (representing the first crop) in milk was served to all present. The variety entertainment program which followed was mostly by the kids and teenagers and each of them gave a commendable performance. This was followed by a dazzling traditional folk dance in colourfully draped sarees by the ladies. The tasty lunch was pure vegetarian and alcohol free, keeping with the Mangalorean tradition from the homeland. The traditional ‘Vorn’, a dessert made of cooked rice and jaggery was also on the menu.

Archbishop Patrick commented that he got an opportunity to view the community in different aspects, as a visitor to the country and now as they presented their culture and talents. The celebration closed with plans for the next Konkani Mass to be celebrated for the feast of St Francis Xavier– Patron saint of Goa and Australia.

By B. Fernandes