Goa Festival- Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist

Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist Date 2016

Night of Friday 24 June 2016

Goa, apart from its tourism, is known for its extravagant festival celebrations and carnivals. Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist is no exception as this Goa festival is also celebrated with much enthusiasm, especially by the young men and women of Goa! Sao Joao’s festival is being celebrated for about 175 years now to pay tribute to Saint John the Baptist who was an itinerant preacher as well as a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels.


When is Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist?

Jesus Christ Christened by St John the BaptistOne of the major festivals of Goa- Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist- is celebrated every year on 24 June. This year too, the festival in Goa will be celebrated on 24 June 2016. Calangute, Anjuna, Vagator and Siolim in Bardez taluka of Goa are some of the regions where the Sao Joao Feast is celebrated in a grand manner. Marna, Fernandes Vaddo, Gaunsavaddo and Igrej waddo in Siolim are also famous for Sao Joao Feast celebration.

Portugal Link of Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist

The celebration of  Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist can be traced to the Festa de São João do Porto which is celebrated every year, on the night of 23rd June, in the city of Porto situated in north Portugal. As Goa was conquered by the Portuguese in the early 16th century and had been a Portuguese colony for about 450 years and which became a part of India only in 1961, there is Portuguese cultural influence over many parts of Goa. Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist is only one of such Portugese influence over Goa.

Legends of Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist

Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist GoaSao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist has its origin in a story told in the Bible. It is said that Mother Mary, after conceiving Jesus, went to meet Elizabeth, the mother of St John the Baptist. Although John was still in the womb of his mother, he got immense pleasure in the presence of Jesus who was also in the womb of Mother Mary. Following this story, there is a tradition for young men in Goa who jump into wells and other river bodies on this festive day signifying the underlying joy that St John the Baptist got in the womb of his mother in the presence of Jesus. Later, it is believed that Jesus Christ was christened by St John the Baptist in the River Jordan.

Rituals and Traditions of Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist

Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist can be called the festival of young men and women in Goa. The youngsters on this day hold a procession and go from door to door to collect fruits, liquor and other gifts. The young girls and the newly married brides then throw flowers and fruits into wells and rivers. The young men and boys jump into these water bodies and collect the fruits and vegetables thrown into the water. The crowd surrounding the wells shouts “Sao Joao, Sao Joao, Viva Sao Joa’s” and the whole environment seems to reverberate with joy and enthusiasm.

Goa Festival Sao Joao

Sao Joao Feast is the most eco-friendly festival of Goa. Not only does the procession of young people get seasonal fruits, vegetables and flowers as gifts when they visit the houses in neighborhood, the men who jump into the water also wear a ‘copel’ which is a head gear having similarity to a wreath in its shape before doing the act. This ‘copel’ crown is made with fresh flowers and leaves tied to bamboos to give them the round shape. The seasonal fruits like jackfruits, mangoes, pineapples etc. are exchanged among the friends and family.

Newly married couples also play an important part in following the traditions of the Sao Joao Feast. Water is poured on newly-wedded daughters-in-laws who then carry vegetables and fruits for distributing among gathered people. The grooms too distribute the famous liquor of Goa, ‘feni’. Mothers-in-law prepare delicious Goan meal for daughters-in-law and sons-in-law.

Boat Parade Sao Joao Goa Festival

There is a grand traditional boat parade held in the vicinity of Siolim Church where people come dressed in a uniform and parade on a decorated float made by tying two boats or banana tree trunks. It is known as Sangodd which are put into nearby streams to float. The gathered group sings Mandos and religious hymns on Sangodd.

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