Year after year, Melbourne—referred to as Australia’s ‘Cultural Capital’ has had the reputation of bringing out the best in entertainment. The Monthi Fest Celebrations this year, held under the banner of Melbourne Konkan Community (MKC) with pomp and vigour was no exception.
All highways, roads, streets, lanes and by-lanes led to the Community Hall in the western suburb of Hoppers Crossing on Saturday, 10 September, where people of all ages gathered to honour our beloved Mother Mary on her birthday. With a sea of ethnic dresses and the fragrance of the flowers brought by tiny tots to venerate Mother Mary filling the air—the atmosphere was electric.
It was a sight to see about 500 folks of Mangalorean origin under one roof mixing with one other, exchanging greetings and getting updates. Looking at the gathering, with many new faces adding up every year, one could determine Melbourne—the most liveable city in the world for a sixth consecutive year running, has been indeed a city of choice.
In continuation with the traditional practice that originated in the Parish of Monte Mariano, Farangipet in 1763, the celebrations in Melbourne retraced to those beginnings. At around 4 p.m., children with flower baskets proceeded to the rear of the hall where the Statue of Infant Mother Mary was placed. With the accompaniment of hymns (Sokkad sangata melya and Moriyek hogolsiya), the flowers were offered, with the excitement of children knowing no bounds. Though it’s spring in this part of the world, the rain was playing hide and seek throughout the morning and into the afternoon. Melbourne, having a reputation of four seasons in a day, as the hymns reinvigorated the atmosphere, for 15 minutes, the heavens appeared to have sealed off, seemingly aware of the events on earth below. The new corn was blessed and it was back to the hall for the mass.
As the mass commenced, one could hear the heavens open up again raining ‘koalas and kangaroos.’ Simultaneously, the congregation was drowned with the melodious choir led by Valerian Menezes. Our main celebrant, Rev. Fr. Prakash Bryan Menezes, SVD had specially flown from the Parish of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Alice Springs in the Northern Territory (approx. 2,250 kms by road) to be with us and celebrate the mass on this auspicious Day. Fr. Prakash, originally from Shirva is very much a Melburnian having finished his priestly studies and ordained in Box Hill, Melbourne and for him it was a sort of home coming to be with us. The enlightening homily by Fr. Menezes, with his amicable style was well appreciated and received by all. As a symbol of new harvest, fresh fruits and vegetables were offered during the Offertory.
The fiesta continued in the form of cultural programme, once the mass concluded. Dancers of all ages, singers and specially the kids of Dance Effects group displayed their talents and regaled the audience. Bollywood, Tap, Mangalorean, Goan and Indipop dances had it all. The MC for the evening Canet Roydon Vas did a good job and kept the crowd entertained with his wit and humour.
After the grace, there followed a sumptuous traditional dinner that included ‘vorn’ and other desserts apt for the occasion. The delicious meal which was followed by a game of ‘Housie Housie’ had attractive cash prizes, with a huge television set to be taken home by the winner of the full house.
President Sunil D’Souza in his address to the gathering outlined the activities carried out by the Association hitherto. Secretary Sharon D’Costa thanked the huge audience and everyone who made the event such a grand success. As an appreciation, Fr. Menezes and the special guest Councillor Gautam Gupta (of Wyndham City) were honoured with bouquets and so were the sponsors who have been the backbone of our function every year.
The Baila dance heralded the beginning of the end of a beautiful celebration. It was a day that will not be easily erased from our memories and perhaps only could be superseded by identical celebrations the coming year. Melbourne Konkan Community (MKC), a relatively new but a vibrant Organisation having become a part and parcel of our lives is here to stay for years to come.
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MKC is very thankful to the sponsors who supported this event.