London, Sep 18: After an 18-month hiatus, life is returning to its pre-pandemic glory. The Lobo Family, on September 12 bought together a community of people whose lives had been paused since March 2020 to celebrate The Monthi fest at the Clay Oven Banqueting suite in Wembley, London. This year being extra special as it was the 25th year silver jubilee anniversary for the Lobo Family hosting and celebrating the event in London.
The pandemic paused life and one event which was absent over the past year, as health measures prohibited many group activities was the Monthi fest - the major Catholic festival held on September 8 every year. This festival celebrates the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and in the Mangalurean Catholic community involves blessing of Novem (new crops). As the host, Mr Lobo put it; the Monthi fest is a family feast of unity, the new crop and the birth of Mother Mary.
This year was extra special, not only was the Monthi fest being celebrated again and bringing people together, it was also the 25th year the Lobo Family hosted and celebrated the Monthi fest in London bringing the community together and keeping the tradition alive. Guest came dressed in traditional colourful, stylish, stunning outfits, it was heart-warming and tearful to see people greeting each other after so long, reuniting and catching up celebrating the Monthi fest; which last year looked like a gathering being a myth of the past.
The Lobo Family based in London bring together Konkan families in the UK and Dublin every year to celebrate the Monthi fest and as Mr Lobo said in his opening speech, “In this happiest moment, Christine and myself are with full of emotions. We find no words to express our gratitude! A humble beginning in 1996, with these young men & women,” he referred to families and children sitting at two tables and emphasised the importance of these people, “amongst the crowd is our rock,” he expressed his gratitude towards the people who have been there from day one and supported them in making the Monthi fest a reality each year.
Going back to 1996 when they first started this event in London, Mr Lobo reminisced, “In 1996, to collect 100 Konkani Catholics was a gigantic task. To our first year the Monthi fest crowd was 150 including lots of non-Catholics & English families. However, during the journey, UK Konkan group, KKL (Konkani Kutam London) and Neasden Prayer group supported us. In 2016, we had over 650 people.”
Mr Lobo told how a few together, came to the UK and from this 100 have grown their community.
He paid tribute to the vaccine inventors and NHS staff sitting amongst them, “We thank, salute and cheer, the inventors of Vaccinations, Dame Sarah Gilbert of Oxford for Astra Zeneca, Ugur Sachi and his wife Ozmel Tracy of Germany for Pfizer and also all NHS staff especially present here, working day and night putting their and their families lives in danger. God bless them.” The crowd cheered and clapped in support – reflecting on the year that passed.
Mrs Lobo, looking glamorous as always, told her story and thanked everyone for joining on this journey and making history to celebrate the 25th year Silver Jubilee Monthi fest in London.
The MC Melvyn Vaz, thanked the Mr & Mrs Lobo for letting him have a part since 1996, Tom D’Souza has also been supporting them throughout.
The Lobo Family thanked UK Konkans, Prayer group, KKL, the bishop of Mangalore diocese Dr Peter Paul D’Souza and Fr Wilson of Mangaluru. Both came twice during this epic journey to join the Lobo family celebrate Monthi fest and mark the 10 and 20th year. This year sadly due to COVID they could not be invited. A minute silence was also observed in remembrance of all the departed souls.
No Catholic community in the UK has made history like this and come to a time of celebrating their 25th Silver Jubilee Monthi fest, the Lobo family have bought together the Mangalorean community and put them on the map in the UK. Sadly, due to the pandemic this was the only year they could not give an open invitation and had limited spaces due to government regulations, hosting only 250 people. Everyone thanked them at the event to say what an honour it was to be invited.
The event held the traditional offering of flowers with the Lobo family and all the children in the community leading the procession. The volunteers from prayer group, KKL and UK Konkan group helped the setup of the venue. Mr Lobo opened with his speech, followed by Violet D’Souza with a prayer. After Mrs Lobo’s speech the flower ceremony took place with a Mass. The food was delicious and mouth-watering with Indian vegetarian dishes.
The dance floor lit up with traditional Indian and Mangalorean hits as people danced away. There was a beautiful cultural programme and singing performance by participants, followed by a great game which everyone clearly enjoyed which was set up by Melwyn Vaz, Melvin Rodrigues and Ceaser Fernandes.
Listed below are the spectacular performances performed during the celebration:
• Konkani song by sung by Margaret Pinto
• Konkani song by sung and composed by Flora Fernandes
• Bollywood dance performance by Rachna
• Kannada and a Konkani song sung by Aviya D’Souza with Aaron D’Souza (Children of Lavita and Marsh D’Souza)
• Konkani comedy skit performed by Alice and Eric D’Souza from UK Konkan’s team
• Konkani dance performance by Calvin D’Souza (Son of Violet and Charles D’Souza)
• Konkani and Bollywood freestyle dance performance by Francis and Marina Saldanha
• English Hymn sung by Gallan Pereira (son of Gordon and Shirin Pereira)
• Konkani and Bollywood song by Gratian D’Silva