One of the more popular #Festivals of #Goa is that of Sao Joao. And that is saying something because the tiny state of Goa perhaps celebrates more festivals than any other state. Unlike most other states of #India where festivals are mostly on religious lines Goa has enough festivals that are all Goan. Now consider the fact that it is home to close to 200 villages (182 at last count) and a lot many of these have festivals that are unique to that particular #Village. Now that is a lot of revelry and fun. There is the #KazuchemFest that celebrates the making of the local #Cashew based drinks of #Urrak and #Feni. There are festivals that pay tribute to Goa’s rich fishing tradition as well as those dedicated to various types of bread (yes you read that right!) that only get made in this state. There are even festivals celebrating the craze that Goans have for the game of #Football. In short, Goans #Celebrate #Life and all it’s gifts, big and little. Without favor or bias.
Sao Joao is celebrated by the #Catholic community to celebrate the #Baptism of #Jesus by #StJohn in the river #Jordan, an event that is considered the most historically important event for believers (along with #Crucification) That is why as part of the various festivities, Goans take a dip in local water bodies (read ponds & wells) as a symbolic way of #Cleansing. And by default as with many festivals that originate from here, music, dance & drink are an integral part of the whole experience. And then there is the timing of it all. It usually happens on the same day every year, #June24 (though festivities go on all week) which interestingly is the period when the #FirstMonsoon of the season arrives in the state. So in many ways Sao Joao is also a celebration of the onset of monsoon and a quiet prayer for #a good Harvest (backed by the rains) As part of the ritual a distinctive coronation of flowers (#Kopel in local parlance) adorn the head of revellers. This began with the local practice of newlyweds visiting the bride’s home with a fruit as gift. Those days!
The same Kopels aka coronation of flowers are used to crown the cross at the end of #BoatProcessions that are more a regular sight under South. From simple wreaths made of roses to those with plaited palm leaves (the more creative folks use fruits and vegetables in making them) there can be an entire piece written only by these ‘Kopels’ Here must mention that as Goa was ruled by the #Portuguese for over four hundred years a lot of that #Culture has become ingrained in the #GoanEthos. So it is inevitable that every Catholic festival has come influence of the Portuguese tradition. After all the festival of Sao Joao is celebrated with equal fervour in #Portugal and various other parts of Europe. Though in Portugal this is more like a street festival with #Bonfires, barbeques, fireworks and dance parties (read raves) that go on through the night. History tells us that these festivities go back to pre Christian #Pagan times (many have to do with #CourtshipRituals even) In Goa it must be mentioned that it is in #NorthGoa that it is celebrated with gusto and if you are in this part of the world be sure to head towards this part of town. And it is a good idea to leave a little in advance. After all on this day all roads lead to #Siolim (a village in North Goa) Viva Sao Joao!