Sao Joao Feast: The Goan flavour intensifies with numerous Christian festivals which adds vibrant colors all round. Sao Joao or The feast of St John the Baptist is observed on June 24th every year with fun and frolic. The celebration of Sao Joao has been continued for around 175 years.
Every monsoon the Sao Joao feast is celebrated with grandeur and gaiety
Feast of St John the Baptist has an interesting legend associated with it. According to story inscribed in the Holy Bible, the feast saw its origin when Mother Mary (bearing Jesus) visited Elizabeth (the mother of St John the Baptist) whilst he was in the womb of his mother. This occasion let him bounded with joy. St John the Baptist later christened Jesus Christ in the River Jordan. The celebration of Sao Jao is most fervor in north Goa.
Some traditions are associated with the feast of St John the Baptist which are followed for years. A procession of youngsters is held, this procession go door to door and collect gifts, liquor and fruits from there. They then offer prayers at any water body of the town and throw the collectibles there. In addition the young marriageable girls and young brides hoping to be blessed with good children also throw seasonal fruit, flowers and vegetables in the well to get their wishes fulfilled.
These are collected by the youths who jump in those wells and ponds. The sound of ‘Sao Joao, Sao Joao, Viva Sao Joao‘ reverberates in the environment.
The well represents Elizabeth’s womb. The young folks jump into the well or pond to feel the ecstasy that John have sensed in presence of Jesus Christ while he was in his mother s womb. The spotlight is on newly-married couples. Water is drizzled on newly-married daughters-in-laws and then the bride carries goodies like mangoes, jackfruits, etc for distributing and the groom distribute the locally popular cashewnut hard drink, ‘feni’, beer, etc. Mother-in-law prepare a complete meal for son-in-law including an array of Goan delicacies, specially sanas with sorpotel, a sweet dish of rice, stuffed with grated coconut, raisins, jaggery called ‘patodio‘ and other traditional food embraced with lot of vegetables, salt fish, salt-water mango and the hard circular bread ‘kankonn‘ dipped in a brewed in moong dal.
The captivating spirit of hued Sao Joao is mind blowing. Siolim Church sees the grand traditional boat parade in the stream which gathers flocks of people to witness the ambience. People dressed in a uniform attire parade on a decorated float made by tying two boats or banana tree trunks together known as Sangodd. They are put into nearby streams to float. The group sings Mandos and religious hymns on Sangodd.
The people wear lovely tiara of seasonal flowers known as ‘Copel’. Numerous adventurous games and competitions are organized in the feast. As they reach Church the candles are lighted and fire crackers.
Spirit of Sao Joao:
The festival is celebrated with great fervor and gusto. Like the other Goan feast Sao Joao blossoms with the enchanting spirit of gaiety, color and tradition. Goan Government is continuously on foot to promote this festival by organizing various events and competitions like pot breaking contests, the frog race. All these add to the festive spirit. The youngsters in Goa celebrate this occasion with revelry and perform daredevil feats dedicated to God for peace and prosperity of every one in the year ahead.