Goa

Panaji: Goa celebrates Sao Joao festival


Rupesh Samant

Panaji, Jun 25: Celebrating the traditional festival, Goans thronged wells, ponds and other water bodies to celebrate festival Sao Joao on Monday, June 24.

The festival, which finds its origin in the erstwhile Portuguese rule, is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, who baptised Lord Jesus in the river of Jordan. It is celebrated annually on June 24.

Celebrations began across Goa since morning with youngsters wearing headgears made up of flowers and leaves called as ‘kopels’, jumping into the wells and screaming ‘Viva Sao Joao’.

The festival is celebrated at the onset of monsoon by people cutting across religious lines, while tourists also join revellers with great zeal.



Traditionally, a group of youth travel all over a place to take a plunge inside wells, ponds, streams, and then claim a reward of seasonal jack fruit, pineapple from relatives and friends.

Inacio Pereira, a resident of St Cruz locality near Panaji, claimed that the modernization has its shadow over the festival but the spirit of the festival remained intact.

“Now the wells are contaminated and unsafe but the enthusiasm remains the same. People now prefer to have artificial rain or jump in swimming pools. Wherever there are traditional wells, the Sao Joao is still celebrated there,” he said.

68-year-old Antonio Fernandes, who retired as a government servant, said the festival has gone through sea change. “It brings back memories of my childhood, how we used to feast on the locally made sweets. There used to be some traditional games that we played. All that is now past.”

The procession of boats is a tradition at Siolim village in North Goa, 30 km away from here. The procession is an important tourist attraction for the day.

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