Mangalore: While many of Hindu feasts have a holiday to celebrate with their family and friends, why not Catholics too have that privilege of getting a holiday to celebrate the ‘harvest feast’ called the ‘Monthi Fest’ aka as the ‘Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary’ celebrated every year on September 8, according to few Catholics that I spoke to after Sunday Mass at Milagres Church here on 24 August.

Monti Fest is a major Mangalorean Catholic festival celebrated on September 8 every year. This festival celebrates the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (birthday of Mother Mary) and in the Mangalorean Catholic community involves blessing of Novem (new crops). The festival derives its name from the Monte Mariano Church at Farangipet in South Canara, and was initiated by Joachim Miranda, a Goan Catholic priest at Farangipet in 1763. Though Tippu Sultan destroyed the churches of Canara, he spared Monte Mariano Church in deference to the friendship of his father Hyder Ali with Father Miranda.

Many Catholics who work abroad, mostly in Gulf Countries, come down during Monthi Fest, to spend time and celebrate the Feast with their family members- but unfortunately many of their family members have to work on that day or they’ll have to take a leave of absence or call off sick to celebrate the Feast with their loved ones. Keeping this in mind, few members of the Catholic community came together and decided why not ask the government to declare September as a holiday in Mangalore and surrounding DK areas and Udupi, where large Catholic communities celebrate this feast in fervour and gaiety.

Speaking to the Parish priest of Milagres Church, Rev Fr Valerian D’Souza, where he said, ” It was decided at the Diocesan level to approach the State Government to declare Public Holiday on September 8th to celebrate the Harvest Festival and Nativity of our Blessed Mother for the Catholic Community in D.K. and Udupi. In order to impress the Government we were asked to submit the signatures of the Community members by the Bishop.The Catholic Sabha members have already started collecting signatures of the Catholic faithful after the Mass. The signature is also taking place at other churches also in the city, DK and Udupi”. Also speaking to me, Anil Pinto, a IT employee said, ” It would be nice if the government declares Sept 8 as a holiday for us in the city – and since Sept 8 falls on a Monday, I can have three days off, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and then I can visit my native place in Bangalore, and spend the feast with my parents and brothers”.

In the meantime, J R Lobo- Mangalore South MLA has also urged Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to declare a holiday on September 8, since the Catholic community celebrates the sacred Nativity feast, which is the birthday of Mother Mary marked by Konkani and other Catholics is a major part of Karnataka and mainly in the Coastal areas . Since there are a large number of Catholics residing in the coastal regions of DK and Udupi districts, Lobo has made this special appeal based on demands from various leaders of the Catholic community. “It is a family festival; a holiday for the public will help everyone celebrate the day with their families,” J R Lobo had mentioned it to the CM. Lobo had also specified that the holiday should be declared in the coastal districts while in other districts it can be optional. The gesture will be appreciated as it will enable a fervent celebrations.

So until we hear the good news of September 8 being declared as a holiday by the Karnataka State government under the leadership of CM Siddu, let’s keep our fingers crossed, and also say a few extra “Hail Mary’s” !

Courtesy : Manglorean