Panaji, June 26: Goa adorned a festive mood in the past few days with the Sao Joao festival celebrated with great grandeur and gaiety on the Shantadurga cruise boat near Panjim jetty. A major tourist attraction for the people across the world, this annual festivals is organized every year on the 24th of June by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC). Dedicated to St John the Baptist, this festival is very popular among the christian youth.
As rituals would have it, the youth are required to jump into the well to retreive gifts thrown by the villagers. Interestingly, the custom symbolizes St John's 'jump of joy' in his mother's womb when he sensed the presence of Jesus.
According to the Bible, when John was in Elizabeth's womb, she had been visited by Mary who had just conceived Jesus. San Joao or St John had baptized Jesus Christ in river Jordan. The jump of joy by the saint then has culminated into a jump into the well these days. Post which, they are required to distribute fruits to the villagers wearing a leaf crown.
The event, this year, was attended by Mr Nilesh Cabral, Chairman of GTDC, along with other dignitaries from GTDC. In an effort to welcome and revive tourism, the government made the best possible arrangements for the festival. "We welcome the tourists from India and abroad to participate in this lively and unique festival and experience our traditional Goan culture. Monsoons in Goa is witness to two major festivals - the Sao Joao and the Bonderam festivals - that offer participants a peep into the traditional Goan culture," said Cabral.
While the guests were given a warm welcome with crowns made of leaves called 'kopel', the ongoing events gathered momentum with time. The occasion was marked by live Goan songs and traditional dance performances. The lip-smacking Goan food made a sensational introduction to the tradition.
GTDC is now focusing on the upcoming annual Bonderam festival, celebrated on the Island of Divar, on the fourth Saturday of August. It starts with a flag parade from the main Divar junction, which is accompanied by the brass band and then the declaration of the ‘Bonderam' festival open. Later there is a fancy dress competition, followed by the traditional float parade and a live band performance by the famous music bands of Goa.
So, if you are planning a trip to Goa soon, let it be the fourth Saturday of August!