Goa is a place which needs little or no introduction. Where the soft sandy beaches run into the blue sea, a sea which is at times wild, and at times tranquil. Green coconut trees all around you, with the sea breeze gushing through your hair, leaving a taste of saltiness on your lips, an indication of your proximity to the majestic water body, proximity to a peaceful haven. Such is Goa. A perfect beach destination where all your worries float away along with the waves, leaving you with inner peace. Some know it as the ideal holiday spot, while some know it as the ultimate party destination. An urban legend amongst the urban youth, Goa is often treated as the Las Vegas of India. Where youngsters flock each year, to let their hair down and party till sunrise. Either way, Goa is a place that everyone knows about. But what you may not know about is the Soa Joao festival that is held here annually.
The Guest of Honour at this Feast
Don’t let the name of the feast confuse you;this feast is dedicated to St John the Baptist. While the name might sound familiar, not all of us are acquainted with the exact story. So let me regale you with a tale. Once upon a time, a long time ago, there existed a man called John the Baptist. He was considered as the forerunner or the precursor to Jesus Christ. He is also often identified with the prophet Elijah and finds mention in many faiths including Christianity, Islam, Bahá'í Faith and Mandaeism. Celebrated on 24th June, this feast is celebrated in the honour of this holy St. John the Baptist.
Fun Fact: This feast is celebrated in Portugal as well, but on the 23rd of June and is called as Festa de São João do Porto.
Let’s get the Party Started
Short version, this feast is colourful, fun and entertaining and is mainly celebrated in Siolim village in North Goa. The morning of this feast begins on a musical note, with melodious local voices filling the air, crooning the song ‘San Joao’ or some religious hymns. You’ll find people dressed up in colourful bright uniforms, parading through the city streets. The youngsters of Goa use this feast to showcase their power and talent, converting the streets into their own version of the Hunger Games, but nothing as drastic. Games and sporting events are held where the youngsters take part, each showcasing their power and skills. The popular Goan drink Feni makes an appearance at this feast too. With youngsters and old alike, drinking Feni and then proceeding to take a plunge in nearby lakes or ponds. The charm and attraction of this feast is heightened when the Rain Gods feel generous and the fun and frolic is accompanied by heavy downpour. If you’ve ever been to a pool party during the rains, then you know just how much fun dipping in the water with the rains squirting from above is.
Picture a carnival atmosphere with entertainment, fun, drinks, music, and the entire locality bonding together to partake in this fun atmosphere and you’ll have pictured the Sao Joao festival bang on. This day ends with the most important part of the festival, the feast. No carnival is complete, without a delicious spread. This feast will not disappoint you and will satiate the foodie within you. A huge lavish spread of meat and seafood is prepared. Seasonal fruits, Goanese fish curries, Pork Vindaloo and many more gastronomical plates are prepared and placed, to be devoured by the hungry locals. A finger licking feast you can eat to your heart’s content.
You may have experienced Goa as the pristine holiday destination, or as the ultimate party destination, but your Goa experience will remain incomplete without the Sao Joao festival. Move over Rio, Goa is the new carnival destination! So pack your bags today and set off. Go Goa!
Author : Sanjana Sule