Christians celebrate Mary's birthday with fervour

Christians celebrate Mary's birthday with fervour

Christians celebrate Mary's birthday with fervour

Children waiting with flower baskets to offer to Mother Mary as a part of Blessed Virgin Mary’s feast in Milagres church on Wednesday. DH photo

For the Konkani-speaking Catholic community living in the coastal districts, September 8 has a special significance as the day is also celebrated as the day of the ‘New Corn’ (just like Onam in Kerala). The occasion is also marked by thanksgiving mass for the blessing of a good harvest.

As a preparation to the feast, children bring flowers arranged in trays, plates and baskets to their respective churches and offer them to Mother Mary on the nine days preceding the feast. Though the weather was very cloudy on Wednesday morning, thousands of children had brought flowers from far away places to their respective churches. As it started raining heavily around 8.30 am, a large number of children drenched in the rain.

Many parishioners took out a procession by carrying umbrellas. Most of the parishes had arranged distribution of sugarcane to children who had brought flowers to offer to Mary while a few distributed ice creams and sweets.

As part of celebrations, parishioners donated rice, vegetables and coconuts among other things and the same was distributed to the poor in the parish besides to old age homes and orphanages.

Family feast

Traditionally, the feast was celebrated as a family feast with a ceremonial lunch in which only vegetables find a place in the day’s menu. Though in earlier times, up to 13 types of vegetable dishes (usually only odd numbers) were prepared, in the present times, most of the families limit it to five or seven. As an unwritten rule, Catholics avoid meat and alcohol on the day. This is also an occasion for all the family members to unite at the ceremonial lunch (it is a practice that if any member of the family can not attend the celebrations, the corn will be sent to them by post to far away places like the Gulf countries, US and Europe).

As per the tradition, after de-husking the corn blessed in the church, it is powdered and mixed with a dish made out of coconut milk and rice batter, and is partaken along with the lunch.