Report by : Austin Prabhu Picture: Austin n Vissia DSouza
Chicago, Sept 10, 2016: The members of the Mangalorean Konkan Christian Association (MKCA/USA) joined together with their friends and families to celebrate the Nativity of mother Mary (Monti Fest) at the Courtland Square Club House, Des Plaines, IL. For Mangaloreans, Monti Fest is traditionally combined with harvest feast, wherein the new crop is offered to the Creator. The blessed corn is then mixed with the festive meal and partaken with kin and kith of the family. For the Mangaloreans in Chicago, it was an early Thanksgiving as the feast closely aligns with North American Thanksgiving celebration.
Under the leadership of President Vissia D’Souza all women executive committee MKCA had a profound and spectacular event with colors.
The program began with a procession with children carrying flowers to express their love, respect and devotion to Mother Mary, which was culminated by offering a single most beautiful flower to the statue of Infant Mary which was very carefully brought to Chicago by Jossie Mendonca. With the singing of “Sokkod Sangatha Mellyam” and “Moriyek Hogollsiyam”, children were rejoicing with admiration and joy. Home grown flowers in his garden by James Fernandes were the gift for children to offer flowers to Mother Mary.
The Holy Mass was celebrated by Rev. Fr. Richie Vaz, SVD, Chaplain of MKCA-USA. Fr. Richie, Reflecting on the readings of 24th ordinary Sunday invited the people gathered for the Monti Fest to believe in a loving, patient, merciful God despite the sinfulness and rejection of him by the people. God is not satisfied waiting for the sinner to come instead he goes in search of him/her. He further stressed, “Our God is the God of the lost, and the God who celebrates when the lost is found”. God does not wait until someone good enough to love is found. God’s love finds what is unlovable and makes the unlovable good. Monti Fest is the celebration of family reunion, mending our distances and brokenness by celebrating the togetherness with a heart of gratitude for the gifts of harvest with a meal “NOVEM” made of fresh vegetables and other delicious dishes of the day. Fr. Richie called everyone to be seekers and finders and to rejoice when someone else has discovered the love and grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
Fr. Richie Vaz blessed the new crop (Novem), which was flown in from India especially for this program by Jossie Mendonca. The Novem was mixed in roce and distributed to all participants to drink as a gesture of unity and nurturance from new crop.
Choir master Concy Misquita conducted a wonderful choir with the assistance of his young and talented musicians – Suraj Misquita on flute, Lloyd Quadros and Sara Mathias on violin. MKCA singers took part in the singing.
As a mark of respect for the country we live in and to our Motherland India, Austin Prabhu lead all the audience to sing “God Bless America” in remembrance of 9/11 which took place 15 years ago followed by Indian National Anthem to commemorate India’s Independence Day celebration on August 15th.
The event chairperson James Saldanha welcomed the gathering and thanked them for their continued support and fellowship. He thanked the audience for attending Monti Fest and spending their valuable time to be with Mangalurean Community.
The cultural program was initiated by emcee Patcy Lasrado by involving all the audiences present by her jokes and riddles. As a part of cultural entertainment, Marissa & Michelle D’Souza sang songs; Nicole D’Souza played guitar, Adriana D’Souza, Lloyd Quadros and Sara Mathias played violin and Suraj Misquita played flute. Adriana and Nicole D’Souza who have 2nd degree black belts in Tae kwon do, exhibited their marshal arts talent and Remlie Choudhury and team danced to a Bollywood theme song. Then it was a dancing time for audience who hit the floor to the tunes of D.J. Joey Mendonca’s music.
There were varieties of delicious vegetarian dishes. All the dishes were home-made by MKCA family members. Many audiences appreciated the authentic delicacy of typical Mangalorean Monti Fest dishes. “I have never eaten this kind of Vorn ever since I left home 7 years back” said an audience helping himself for the second round. There was a big line for home-made Badami Kulfi (special dish), not to mention it was also for the second round! Every dish was so authentic that there was no room for cherry picking.
MKCA Secretary Queenie Mendonca thanked the audience for their attendance, event chair James and Rita Saldanha for making this Monti Fest a successful and colorful event and all the members who have worked hard directly or indirectly for the success of this program. The cultural program concluded with the singing of “Loudathe Dominum.”