Just as Farangipet in Canara, Vailankanni in Chennai and Mount Mary’s in Bandra, Goa too celebrates Mount Mary Feast.
The Feast of Our Lady of the Mount ( Monte) or Mount Mary Feast will be celebrated on 8th September the world over by people from different faiths. It is the Feast of the Nativity or birth date of Mother Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.
In Goa, all Roman Catholic churches celebrate this special day. A nine-day novena precedes the feast. Special prayers are offered to the Blessed Virgin Mary and prayer requests made for the entire family. Belief is that Mother Mary intercedes on behalf of her devotees to Jesus.
Also called ‘Fulanchem Fest’ or the feast of flowers as children offer flowers to the statue of ‘Our Lady’ or The Blessed Virgin Mary. The statue is placed in front of the altar on a table and children bring flower offerings, gathered from their surroundings, in a procession and drop them at Her feet. A pretty sight to behold.
As 8th September is taken to be the birthday of Jesus’s mother – Mary, Catholics around the world also celebrate it as Mother’s Day.
Few churches in Goa are solely dedicated to Our Lady of the Mount. One such church is in Old Goa – known as ‘Monte Chapel’ or Our Lady of the Mount Chapel. ‘Monte’ meaning hillock. It is located near St. Cajetan’s Chapel and commands a picturesque view of the River Mandovi and the islands of Chorao and Divar.
Another church dedicated to Our Lady of the Mount is in Chinchinim, South Goa. Devotees from all faiths come to venerate the statue of Our Lady on this day.
Besides Goa, noteworthy among the Churches that celebrate this feast is the one in Bandra, Mumbai, called ‘Mount Mary Church’. It is a pilgrimage site and thousands of devotees make it on foot days before the feast. They camp on site to partake of the 9-day novena. A big fair is set up along the road leading to the church located on a hillock. What’s special about the veneration here is people make offerings of wax objects that replicate parts of the body or children/adults as specific prayer requests relating them. Eg. for the barren, wax cradles are available for offering whereas for the homeless or those needing a house of their own, little wax houses can be offered, etc.
Another church that celebrates this feast in a big way is in Canara, Karnataka. Situated on Monte Mariano or Mount of Mary, the Church is called Monte Mariano Church and is dedicated to Our Lady of the Mount. The ‘Monthi Fest’ is celebrated with great fervor. Fresh paddy is cooked in milk and sipped by the entire family. The Canara Catholics choose to eat vegetarian meals throughout the novenas and even on the feast day.
Another famous Church in India dedicated to Our Lady of the Mount is ‘Our Lady of Vailankanni’ in Tamil Nadu. A famous pilgrimage site for devotees from around the world throughout the year and especially during the Novenas and the feast day.