Sao Joao—Goa Greets Monsoon


In Goa, making fun even out of the most somber religious ritual is just another part of a funny story. So the Feast of St. John is nicknamed Sao Joao. This is a very special Goan way of invocation of the Rain God. To fit Catholicism into an Indian panorama, in Goa, the Portuguese settlers went for the monsoon. Sao Joao is observed in the village of Siolim, on river Chapora, right beside the big cathedral there. For many days people keep on praying for rain and, in anticipation, deposit wine bottles--full and sealed-- in village wells. On the day of the feast, decorated boats carrying different models and messages sail to Siolim from every village. Air turns heavy with all sorts of floral costumes and competitive gestures. It turns into a captivating session of music and dance. Boys jump into the wells to retrieve deposited treasure. The magic concludes as everyone gets drenched to the skin either in the rain, and, if it is late in coming, in water splashed directly from the river by a combined play of frenzy.