The birthday of St. John the Baptist (Sao Joao in Portuguese), is one of Goa’s favourite monsoon festivals. This day, the 24th of June is a gala occasion in Goa with the people getting together to venerate the saint as well as to welcome the onslaught of the monsoon. The festivities go on all day with pool parties and parties around wells and other water bodies.
About 25 years ago a decorative boat competition was started at Seolim. Till today, people decorate boats and then paddle them down the river, when the tide comes in, to the judge’s stand; the judging usually takes place at about 4.00 pm. The best boat is awarded a prize. This has become a popular tourist attraction over the past few years.
More commercial festivities are also organized by event management people, where people can eat, drink and make merry, wearing the traditional headgear and jumping periodically into swimming pools and other such water bodies.
Life of John the Baptist
The story of John the Baptist begins with his miraculous conception by Elizabeth, his mother, who was past child bearing age. John was the first to celebrate the coming of Jesus by leaping for joy in his mother’s womb when she caught sight of Mary who was the mother of Jesus.
John baptized many people in the river Jordan, and always spoke of one who was to come after him, who would baptize people, not with water, but with the Holy Spirit.
Shortly after the Angel Gabriel paid his fateful visit to Mary, foretelling of her son Jesus’ birth, Mary set off to visit her older cousin Elizabeth. Now Elizabeth was thought to be past child bearing age, but had still miraculously conceived a child. Her husband Zechariah, who had been informed of this good fortune, also by the angel Gabriel, was extremely doubting and disbelieving, and so (the story goes) had been struck dumb as punishment, until the birth of the child.
When Mary reached Elizabeth’s house, she was extremely surprised to hear Elizabeth greet her as the mother of the Saviour, because of course she had told no one of this happening. Elizabeth however went on to explain, that she knew this, because when she saw Mary, the child in her womb had leapt for joy. This as yet unborn child was John.
John went on to become a wandering preacher, often described in the Bible as a wild man, wearing clothes of camel hair and living of locusts and wild honey. He baptised people in the river Jordan and asked them to repent and change their ways. He is also one who fulfils the prophecy of Isaiah "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way – a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’"Celebrate Sao Joao in Goa