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Goa - Sao Joao

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Generally, as June 24 approaches, most wells are almost swollen full and they become a source of fun and festivities and the fact remains the rains are here!!!, specifically the one we are now approaching with a certain amount of longing ‘Sao Joao’.

‘Sao Joao’ is the feast of St John The Baptist, the prophet saint who, according to Christianity, is believed to have heralded the coming of the ‘Messiah’ into this world. The Bible quotes the mother of John the Baptist, Elizabeth, ‘look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb lept for joy’ she exclaimed when Mary, mother of Jesus came to visit her. (Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist).

Thus the festival came to be known as the feast of Saint John the Baptist, where jumping with joy’, specially in water bodies was the highlight. The revelers sizzling on the bounties of the local alcoholic brew jumped into the wells, ponds or creeks, yelling, ‘Viva re Sao Joao’. It probably meant more than just a cool dip. The other aspect of this leap was young boys just learning to swim.

Young brides wishing for motherhood offered the seasonal fruit, flowers and vegetables, into the ponds or wells. This means a prayer for a fertile and a bountiful womb!! Young girls hoping for a fortuitous match also made these offering. Sao Joao is an occasion for family get-togethers and celebration. Tradition has it that the son-in-law was invited by his mother-in-law for a feast, which included an array of Goan delicacies, specially sanas with sorpotel.

The key dish of the festival is the ‘patodio’ a sweet dish prepared from rice, with a stuffing of grated coconut, raisins, jaggery and other ingredients and wrapped in turmeric leaves, traditional hot meals include lot of vegetables, salt fish, salt-water mango, the hard round bangle-like bread ‘kankonn’ dipped in a concoction of moog dal.

Children, women and young girls, wear little wreaths of flowers (copel) around their heads. Government also promotes this festival by organizing various events, specially a day-long cruise on boards ‘Santa Monica’. Various hotels also organize many competitions like pot breaking contests, the frog race and others, all that add to the festive spirit. So this festival all about fun.

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