The month of September every year has a special attraction and importance to Catholics in the coastal region of Karnataka because the Nativity of Our Blessed Mother Mary will be celebrated as Monthi Fest. While the nine days’ novena in preparation to the much awaited Monthi Fest begins on 30 August, the children take pride to gather vareity of flowers from wherever they find them and are available and rally round the decorated image of Baby Mary singing traditional hymns and offer these flowers with great love, affection and devotion. Their parents too give them company so much so the churches are pcked with children and their parents both for Mass and the novena.
What is so special and great about Monthi Fest and so attractive that even children of all ages flock for the nine days’ Novena and the solemnity festival celebration? First, the nature at this time of the year itself is attractive with lush greenery all around, freshness and pleasant weather and brings forth variety of flowers, vegetables and paddy corn due to copious rain. products and the produce – fruits of the farmers’ hard labour. Hence, all these nature’s gifts and fruits of human labour are reverently and gratefully offered to Mother Mary on her birthday because while God became generous to the humanity by giving us Jesus through her, it is but fitting that her children here on earth offer the gifts of nature through her to Jesus with a heart filled with love, joy and gratitude. Second, It is a family feast. Members of the family who are away either to earn their daily bread or pursue studies, make it a point to come home to take part in the family meal during which the blessed corn is reverently consumed and then a vegetarian meal is served thanking God for His bounty through nature and blessings from Blessed Virgin Mary, our heavenly Mother. This feast therefore has become so traditional that along with worship and devotion, sentiments too are to be seen so that one who for some reason or the other is absent would certainly feel a void in ones heart with regret, sadness and sorrow with a resolution not to miss it next time, in the participation of the Solmnity of Monthi Fest and that of the family meal.
So rich is the tradition evolved around Monthi Fest, so meaningful and beautiful is its celebration and so attractive the month of September because of 08, the day of the Nativity of our Blessed Mother our Monthi Fest. With tremendous joy welling up deep within me, I take this forum and occasion to wish all of you a very happy Monthi Fest invoking God’s abundant blessings, mercies and graces through the powerful intercession of Mother Mary, the Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, the Mother of our Diocese venerated as Our Lady of Milagres.
XGerald Isaac Lobo
Bishop of Udupi