Report : Dilip Correa,
Pics: Joachim D'Souza, Daijiworld Media, Oman
Muscat, Sep 10: The Konkani-Speaking Community of the Sts Peter and Paul Church, Ruwi gathered in big numbers, raising their voices in unison in praise of the Almighty for the gift of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Thursday, September 8. The church was filled with over 1,500 faithful as the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, or ‘Monthi Fest’ as it is popularly known, was celebrated with great fervor and devotion. The Mangalurean community from the parish has always been at the forefront of promoting culture, nourishing native traditions and celebrating community. Likewise, the celebration of Monthi Fest is very much looked forward to every year as it recreates the fond memories from our homeland.
The 35th year celebration of the Monthi Fest in Sts Peter and Paul Church, Ruwi, Oman, commenced with a nine-day Novena from August 30. The days of novena were a preparation for Monthi Fest and harvest feast for the whole family. The novena began each day in the evening after the regular English Mass with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with spiritual enrichment through sermons, bestowed on the congregation in Konkani, by Fr Lenson Lobo, OFM CAP, and the visiting priest from, Magaluru, India.
At the end of the novena and Eucharistic celebrations on each day, the children and adults present offered flowers in a ceremonious manner to Infant Mary. Treats were distributed every day to children and adults, sponsored by the faithful of the Mangalurean community. The grotto was illuminated in a graceful white and blue, which contributed to the celebratory mood.
The showering of flowers ceremony near the Grotto, on September 8 started late in the evening. Over 600 little children gathered in front of the church compound with flower basket, excited to celebrate the birthday of our Mother Mary. The gathered faithful sang the melodious ‘Sakkad Sangatha Melyaam', with the choir and the procession led by Peter Misquith carrying the Bambino, further followed by the new corn carried by Caroline and Meghan D’Souza. Holy pictures for the blessing were carried by Sunil and Sunila D’Souza, Mudhdhom candles were carried to the altar by Stanley Fernandes. The Eucharistic ministers, altar servers and the celebrant priests joined the procession in poise and devotion. Novem (Paddy corns) was arranged by Melvin Peres and family, and was brought from India for the occasion by Joachim D’Souza and family.
Solemn celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the church on September 8 was led by Fr Ivan Pinto as the main celebrant, Fr Stephen Lewis, parish priest, Fr Marian Miranda, spiritual director of Konkani Community and assistant parish priest of Ruwi church along with Fr Lenson Lobo as co-celebrants. At the beginning of the mass, Valerian Peres, coordinator of Nativity Committee welcomed the congregation on behalf of Konkani community.
A melodious Konkani choir Coordinated by Monica Dantis and Anita Lobo, led by Reena Lobo (GVOM 2012 Winner) and supported by Prakash D’Souza during the novena days, and conducted by maestro Apolinaris D’Souza was the highlight of the evening celebrations on the feast day, which helped the devotees to participate in the Eucharistic celebrations in a meaningful manner. Larissa Rego, the keyboard player has given the beautiful accompaniment throughout the novena days and on the feast day; excellent support for choir was given by Stany, Freda Soares and Harold Lewis.
As the Feast mass concluded, Fr. Stephen Lewis – parish priest, proposed the vote of thanks. Special thanks were extended to the guest priest Fr Lenson Lobo for his spirit-filled homilies for all the nine day novenas and Fr Marian Miranda for his whole hearted support. Fr Stephen Lewis also appreciated and thanked the Nativity Feast Committee. He was in praise of the choir, the altar servers, Eucharistic ministers, the ushers, sponsors, church staff and all who have worked tirelessly to make this celebration of Monthi Fest 2022, possible in utmost gaiety and grandeur. Special thanks were extended to Stanley Fernandes and Talentz for sound system, Sunil D’Souza and Naveen Sequeira for outside church lighting and decoration.
Fr Stephen Lewis also thanked the community parishioners who have given their wholehearted support for the preparation of Noven Jevan and the arrangement of refreshments for the children during nine days of Novena. The Nativity Feast Committee thanked the individuals for their wholehearted support and companies who supported with their food products for goodie bags distributed to the children on the feast day.
At the end of Eucharistic celebration, Monica Dantis, Konkani community leader read the names of sponsors who whole heartedly supported the Monthi Fest celebrations were honoured with the Mudhdhom candles. Children and faithful were distributed with goody bags by the volunteers while exiting the church after the high Mass. The Nativity Celebration Committee also thanked the generous sponsors of the goodie bags.
The support of Stanley Fernandes for sound system, Naveen and Sunil for lighting, ushers coordinated by Paul D’souza and Vikas Fernandes, Eucharistic ministers coordinator Wilfred Fernandes, beautiful church Altar decorum by Clita Fernandes and Peter Misquith was praiseworthy.
The Nativity Feast Celebration Committee under the able leadership of Valerian Peres (Main Coordinator) consisting of Stanley Fernandes, Monica Dantis, Lancy Lobo, Peter Misquith, Clita Crasta, Dilip Correa, Jessie Pereira, Michael Pasanna, Paul D'Souza, Ajith Walder, Harold Lewis, Sunil D’Souza, Stany Soares, Elizabeth Noronha, Arul Lobo, Cyril Danthi, Naveen Sequeira, Sunil Lewis, Longines Fernandes, Reshma D’Costa, Vikas Fernandes, Sanjay D’Cunha, Wilfred Fernandes and Lavina Patrao, played an important role in strengthening the bond among the Mangalurean Catholic expatriates in the Sultanate of Oman.
Keeping up the tradition of the harvest festival, authentic Mangalurean vegetarian dinner was served after the mass. The preparation of the Noven Jevan which was initiated by Lancy Lobo with his South Express Restaurant team was indeed praiseworthy. More than 75 volunteers ensured that 1500 faithful were served Noven Jevan meticulously. The tireless efforts of the Monthi fest Celebration Committee, the dedicated volunteer’s and delicious food was appreciated by one and all.
The entire Mangalurean community of Ruwi parish along with faithful from neighboring parishes flocked together as one family to celebrate the nativity feast.