Konkani Ratn of Canada Award bestowed on Gerald D’Mello – KONKANCATHOLIC.COM

Konkani Ratn of Canada Award bestowed on Gerald D’Mello

September 20, 2022

Canada: With a passion appropriate to this solemn yet festive event, the Mangalorean Association of Canada (MAC) organized and hosted the traditional Monthi Fest on Sunday, September 11, 2022 at the Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Mississauga. Leading the religious ceremonies at the John Paul II Polish Cultural Centre, John D’Souza welcomed the guests and enlightened the audience with the significance of Monthi Fest and summarized the flow of the ceremonies. Young and older angelic children, dressed in their finery, placed flowers in honour of Mother Mary to the accompaniment of ‘Sokkad Sangatha Melyan’ and ‘Moriyek Hogolsiyan’. With the blessing of the sheaves of grain, the congregation then walked eagerly in a procession to the church for a Konkani mass. The church resounded with the singing of the Konkani choir led by the incredible choir master, Merlyn Rodrigues. From the subdued anticipation of the faithful Catholics gathered for mass to the solemn assemblage of Fr. Roshan D’Souza, the main celebrant, Fr Andrew Lewis, Fr. Terry Dias, Fr. Manuel Antao and Deacon Sarfaraz Pinto to the powerful, meaningful homily preached by Fr. Ranjan D’Sa, people participated in the excitement of reminiscent rituals and traditions from back home.

The cultural programme commenced at John Paul II Polish Cultural Centre with a light snack and an introductory welcome by the comperes of the evening, Nicole Lewis and Ethan D’Souza, who set the evening on fire with their confidence, warmth and enthusiasm.  The emcees requested the presence of Maxim D’Mello, President of MAC, who took to the stage in his inimitable yet unassuming manner generously applauding the people for their participation and enthusiasm.  Celebrating 20 years of establishing MAC, the association was proud to announce many new and innovative programs.  Attuned to technological developments, MAC introduced the first ever e-ticketing system and wristband entry to the event minimizing long line ups and confusion.  An additional scholarship of $1000 was announced for 1st year university students progressing into their 2nd year.  Parents were encouraged to become members of MAC and take advantage of this fantastic opportunity.  The first ever unique and original MAC theme song dedicated to late Fr. Edwin D’Souza was released during the Monthi Fest event by Fr. Roshan D’Souza, the spiritual director of MAC.  At the helm of the release was Manohar Pais, a tremendously talented personality, who highlighted the vision and the creative efforts behind the theme song.  The evocative and profound lyrics and tune were set by Gerry D’Mello, music programming, audio recording and mixing was done by Ashith Glen Pinto, harmony was done by Alwyn Noronha and the cinematography and editing was done by Aman Chandak.  Using beautiful locales and settings such as Niagara Falls, CN Tower, various parks and beaches, the theme song enveloped its listeners with warmth and accentuated the fundamental principles and accomplishments of MAC.

The pièce de résistance of the evening was the presentation of a much-deserved tribute and accolade in the form of a Mann Pothr and the title of “Konkani Ratn of Canada” to Gerald D’Mello.  Gerry, as he is popularly known, is a humble, hugely talented, multi-dimensional, and generous individual who has devoted his life, time, and energy to promote and encourage our Konkani culture.  From translating and writing Konkani scripts for dramas to composing exceptional lyrics and music, cheerfully volunteering his talents for any event, coordinating religious ceremonies, working tirelessly, and investing countless hours while sacrificing family and personal time to assist MAC’s Cultural coordinators and being an ardent staunch advocate of MAC, Gerry is hugely respected and admired by everyone within and outside of the community.  Led in a procession to the stage by MAC members and accompanied by his wife, Lucy D’Mello, Gerry was draped with a shawl as a sign of respect and admiration by Maxim D’Mello.  Ronald Fernandes, ex-President of MAC presented Gerry with a memento to commemorate his numerous accomplishments and Fr. Roshan D’Souza offered Gerry a basket of delicious fruit.  Manohar Pais did an exceptional job of reading the Maan Pothr offering everyone in the audience a glimpse and insight into the meaningful and outstanding achievements of Gerry and then presented him a framed copy of the Maan Pothr.  In this thank you address, Gerry in his unpretentious and humble way, thanked the association his for bestowing this honor on him and vowed to continue his work towards strengthening and solidifying the presence and influence of the Konkani language, traditions, and culture. 

Education has always been a priority for MAC which led to the initiation of a scholarship programme for first year university entrants. The 2022 scholarship winners were Gail Cardoza and Vinitia Fernandes, both gifted youngsters with an incredible work ethic and determined focus on their career path. The scholarship award ceremony was organized by Suneetha D’Souza who has done a commendable job of reviewing applications and finalizing the winners.  Gail won a scholarship of $1000 presented by Prescilla Machado and Vinitia won $500 presented by Prescilla D’Cunha. The sponsors of the 2022 Scholarship awards were Vincent and Prescilla Machado, Reginald and Mary Fernandes, Flavian and Miriam Pinto and Leo and Prescilla D’Cunha.  MAC also launched a refreshed vibrant website for MAC to ensure that members and the community are always apprised of the association’s events, Konkani masses, updated news, membership, and sponsor details.  Details of the refreshed website were shared by Pamela Soans, Public Relations & Webmaster for MAC, and has taken a key role in modernizing and restoring the web portal.  Noel D’Souza was instrumental in assisting with updating the website www.macsaunsar.com.

Dinner was a sumptuous vegetarian meal lovingly cooked and catered by Loy D’Souza of Konkan Delite. Of noteworthy mention was the ‘Vorn’, a delectable dessert made of coconut milk, rice, jaggery, raisins and cashews.  Replete and satiated with the delicious meal, the audience were ready for yet another showstopper, the Sambram or Celebration.  Music can be sweeping and glorious communicating so many emotions and each culture has its own intrinsic form and expression. Vijay Dante, Vice President of MAC invited the Sambram group to commence their performance.   Conceptualized, envisioned, organized, and brought to life by a gifted and exceptional duo, Babita and Ashith Pinto, of Do Re Mi Fa Creations, a well-known Konkani music group that originated in Canada, the Sambram was most certainly an unbelievable experience.  Babita, an outstanding singer and Ashith worked relentlessly and tirelessly training the singers and musicians, coordinating the minutiae of the 45-minute program to showcase the talents and versatility of youngsters as well as adults.  The participants of the Sambram were Manohar Pais, Merlyn Rodrigues, Sonia Monteiro, Lara Rebello, Diyona Pinto, Vinod Saldanha, Linton Pinto, Ethan Pinto, Zach Pinto, Reanna D’Souza, Pearl Saldanha and Olivia Saldanha.  Each singer captured and commanded the hearts and emotions of the audience with their performance, their golden voices and sheer stage presence.  To liven the program and inject humor were the comedian duo, Santosh D’Souza and Ronald Monteiro.   Jasmine, a teenaged performer captivated everyone with her graceful and unique dance.  A group folk dance choreographed by Suzanne Aranha, a remarkable dancer herself, vowed the audience as each participant enthusiastically portrayed the joys and exuberance of new harvest and the associated ritualistic traditions.   The amazing dancers were Sunita Aranha, Shaun Aranha, Priston Monteiro, Ronald D’Souza, Suneetha D’Souza, Lloyd Pinto, Xenia Pinto, Leonara D’Souza and Cynthia Lewis.

MAC has been a strong supporter and advocate of generously contributing to organizations and groups that are non-profit and make meaningful contributions to society and the people that need help.  In keeping with this mandate, 50% of the 50/50 Raffle draw went towards the Ian Cares Foundation’s “Sarva Dharma Sangama”, a rehab facility created in the memory of late Ian Austin Mascarenhas.  This facility aims to provide a new lease of live to youth burdened by the 3 D’s – drugs, drink, and depression.  Mental health is essential and showing compassion, understanding and care towards those living with such illness and providing them with pathways and resources to hope, healing and recovery is indeed a noble endeavor.   The Vote of Thanks was given by Cynthia Lewis, General Secretary who spoke about the engagement, assistance, and generosity of all the clergy including Sr. Ferdinanda, sponsors, organizers and volunteers who helped contribute to the success of Monthi Fest.  Our deepest gratitude and appreciation to our main sponsors, Ravi Fernandes of Trinity Auto Centre and Vijay Dante of Udupi Madras Café.  We also acknowledge and are grateful to Ronald Rego of Rego International for his generosity as well as all the other sponsors who gave willingly and without hesitation.  The names of all sponsors for the Monthi Fest event will be published on www.macsaunsar.com.  With the singing of ‘Laudate’, the beautiful Nativity cultural programme was concluded.

MAC sincerely appreciates the tremendous and uncomplaining support and participation of all the volunteers and the dedication and commitment of its members who worked tirelessly to make Monthi Fest an unforgettable and astounding event.