Dubai, Sep 25: With great joy and devotion, St Mary’s Mangalorean Community (SMMC-Dubai), had a solemn celebration of Monti fest, the feast of nativity of Mother Mary on Friday September 8.
The spiritual preparation for the feast was preceded by nine days of Novena, preaching and flower strewing attended by a huge number of faithful along with children. Nine days homilies were presented by Fr Chetan Lobo, OFM Cap were centered on the virtues of Mother Mary.
It was wonderful to see children enthusiastically attending the novenas in large numbers and showering flowers on Mother Mary. His excellency Bishop Paolo Martinelli, Bishop of Apostolic Southern Vicariate of Arabia and Fr Michael Fernandes, Custos of the Capuchin Custody, Apostolic Southern Vicariate of Arabia, also joined the novena celebrations and appreciated rich Mangalorean tradition.
For these joyous celebrations, the grotto and the church premises were decorated with colourful lights, and the church was decorated with beautiful flower arrangements to give a pleasing festive appearance.
On the feast day, over 10,000 faithful devotees participated in the solemn eucharistic celebration. The festal celebration commenced with a grand procession led by the renowned Konkan Taram Brass band, playing the popular hymn 'Sakkad Sangatha Mellyam.' Following them were altar servers, children with flowers, representatives of eucharistic ministers, the Infant Mary’s statue in palki and priests.
The church service, which included prayers in honor of our Lady, began with the traditional blessing of the newly harvested corn (paddy), flown freshly from our homeland. Floral tributes were offered to infant Mary by little children while the choir sang the beautiful hymn 'Moriek Hogolsiyam.' The statue of Infant Mary and the new harvest, known as 'Novem,' were then carried to the altar by procession.
Main celebrant of the solemn festal eucharist was Fr Chetan Lobo, OFM Cap, accompanied by Fr Victor Fernandes OFM Cap and Fr Andre Fernandes, OFM Cap. The priests from the parish representing different languages and communities too joined in the concelebrations and enhanced the festive joy.
The novena celebrations were elevated by melodious hymns sung by the JMJ, St Cecelia, and Konkan Yuva choir groups. 'St Cecilia Choir' elevated the hearts of the faithful by singing melodious hymns during the service on the feast day. Fr Victor Fernandes expressed gratitude to all the well-wishers and those involved in making this celebration possible. After the high mass, Konshi (blessed new corn) was distributed to the faithful devotees to celebrate the feast with their families and loved ones. Sumptuous Novem Jevann prepared by Shetty Lunch Home, Karama was served to all.
The celebrations were meticulously planned and managed by SMMC core committee members, volunteers, and ushers under the guidance of the spiritual director, Fr Victor Fernandes, who provided their selfless service relentlessly for all 9 days of Novena and on the feast day. The arrangements were highly appreciated by the devotees, evoking nostalgic memories of the age-old traditional celebration of 'Monti Fest' in our native homeland with Konkan Taram Brass Band playing popular Mangalorean and Goan tunes.
On the occasion of Monti Fest, drawing, imitation of a saint and elocution competitions in Konkani were held for the children for different age categories on September 2 and over 120 children participated in the competition with great zeal and enthusiasm. All the contestants were presented with certificates & medals.
As part of the Monti Fest celebration, a fun filled cultural evening, “Monti Sobhan” was organised on Sunday 17 September. The program commenced with a prayer dance by Viola and Vidisha. Fr Victor Fernandes, SMMC spiritual director, Sr Jacintha, director (St Mary’s School), Joanna Fernandes, vice president of St Mary's Church parish council, and Saji Verghese, secretary St Mary’s Church parish council, who were the guests of honour along with Jeevan Vas, SMMC coordinator, graced the stage.
Jeevan Vas welcomed the guests with flowerpots. Fr Victor addressed the gathering, and the winners of the competitions were awarded with mementos and certificates. Students who excelled in their academics (grade 10 & 12) were also recognized with the students excellence awards. The vote of thanks was proposed by Clement Cardoza.
During the cultural programme, solo and duet singing were performed by winners and runners-up of 'Golden Voice of UAE', Valenteena Castelino, Priyanka D’Souza, and Anil Rodrigues. Group dances were performed by the Feet Beet group led by Arun Lobo and Ocean Kids Dance & Music Institute. Rich traditional konkani culture was showcased through Gumta by Pokri Pernal led by Dony Correa, followed by dance and comedy konkani yakshagana, “Amche Bingrisanv” by our own youth group, Konkan Yuva.
The program was compered by the multi-talented and renowned personality, Uttam Menezes. All the artistes and choreographers were honored with flowerpots. The two-hour grand entertainment program with a packed audience was a well-organised event, appreciated by all.