Like Goans, who make sure to flow a preacher from Goa for ’novenas’ of St Francis Xavier, the Mangaloreans too make sure to secure the services of a priest from Mangalore, besides the regular Konkani-speaking priests who are now based in Qatar.
The Konkani-speaking population here is served by two priests who say mass in ’amchi mai bhas’ in the multi-national and multi-lingual church which has a Christian population of 1.20 lakh. If last year the Moti Fest had to be celebrated in the open compound of the Parish Centre, this year the feast will take place in the new church which has capacity to house the huge crowd which will throng it on the feast day.
The church here has no cross, both inside and outside, in keeping with the dictates of the land. Long-time residents of Qatar, who have spent more than four decades here recall the times, when they had to hold religious services in garages and have to take the permission from local authorities to conduct them, only to find the police cracking a whip on such gettogethers.
But the tide has turned a full circle, with a more liberal Emir as head of the state and tolerance towards other religions the order of the day. The church of Qatar on its part seeks to bring out a pictorial book with old photographs of religious ceremonies conducted in Qatar in the past four decades or so. This book is due for release at the end of this year.
Discarding of the old church and making way for the new one has also meant that the Goans and others who relished the Goan pork sausages and sorpatel after the mass at the old Parish Centre have to give it a miss now.
To relish the pork dishes is not easy in this part of the world. As a Muslim country, pork is not sold across the counter. But, the same is available easily in Dubai. So, most of the pork eaters in Qatar get their limited quantities of their favorite meat from across the borders.
Another outlet open to them to try their luck is the American military base, which has abundant stocks, with a large chunk of Filipinos working at the military base. Mangaloreans look up to their Filipino friends to bail them out when they run short of supply.
That apart, the Moti Fest sees the community coming in full strength, the ladies in multi-coloured dresses and the men in traditional suits. On the feast day, carnations steal the show in the church. Children carrying flower baskets add colour to the occasion.
As a Goan, understanding Mangalorean Konkani is not a hard task. Its same except for a few words which are different from Goan Konkani. I am frantically trying to locate the Goan sausage seller at the new church premises, but without luck. Hopefully, they will come back once the tender to run the church canteen is finalised and everyone will be able to feast on the pork sausages and sorpatel