Yesterday was June 24th. Yesterday was Sao Joao. Time flies by so fast. Last year, same time, Tota & Maina were in Goa, with Biwi and I. We went to a Sao Joao pool party in Dona Paula and our pictures came in the ToI supplement. It seems that happened only a few months back. Definitely not a year. Time flies by so fast. Tota & Maina are in Africa these days. Just when Tota was planning to quit his job, be jobless for a while and take up some traveling trips, he was given this new African opportunity by his Indian company. And he said, why not. So he is still working.
A few weeks back, an old acquaintance of mine on Facebook tagged me in a comment to a post. It was a post by someone looking for someone in Goa who could use his GoPro during the upcoming Sao Joao. I said, sure why not, I can do it. I am in Goa and I have a GoPro. That someone told me that he worked for a PR firm and Goa Tourism was one of their clients. The tourism department could make use of an individual’s video-documentation of the festival to promote it. But there is no money in it, I was cautioned. ‘But do you guys have a paid contract with Goa Tourism?’, I questioned back. I think he said yes. ‘Then why do you want to get a free job done?’, I shared my amusement. The department does not have any budget for this, I was told! I didn’t laugh on the phone when he told me this. But I could have as well laughed. Except that it would have been rude. But then I am not the politest person around anyway! May be I was in a good mood that day! So the tourism department has the budget to pay a PR firm but no budget for someone who can provide real content that can be used by the PR guys? So nice!
Anyhow, so I agreed to the shoot nevertheless. I had time. I was anyway shooting something or the other. Plus if the department did post my video on their site, I could ask for a link to ShaadiGraPher.com and that could increase it’s page rank in the future. So Sao Joao it was today. I went to Siolim. It’s about 30 Kms from where I live, up north. I went there because I had found out that a lot of people gather there to see some sort of a boat exhibition. I wondered what would the story of my video be? To answer that, I had to be sure what this Sao Joao festival was about at the first place.
Many many years ago, an angel told an old lady named Elizabeth that she would become pregnant and give rise to a great child. I guess the same angel also told something similar to Mary (who would give birth to Jesus later) at a later date. Now Mary and Elizabeth were neighbours. So Mary went to Elizabeth to share what she had been told (not realizing that Elizabeth herself was going to be a mother soon). So the story is, the unborn child inside Elizabeth’s womb sensed the arrival of the unborn child of Mary, and ‘jumped’ inside the womb. He would later take birth and get known as St. John the baptist (Sao Jao in Portugese). And it is his birthday that is celebrated on 24th June. He is probably the only saint whose birthday is celebrated! But history aside, in the present form of the festival, what people are supposed to do is, jump in water (I hope the ‘jumping’ connection is clear now that you know the story behind this). Textbook tradition is that the elders hide gifts inside water. I guess that would be to encourage youngsters to dive in! And because it basically is a festival of celebration, everyone drinks either before or after the jump. Last year, all I knew was that on this day, almost every swimming pool worth anything had hosted a party with DJ and music and beer where people could generally go and have fun. I never knew what it really was. This time, as I was driving to Siolim, I knew a little more. I wondered how much of the traditional celebrations I was going to enjoy.
I reached by 3 pm. That’s when the boats were supposed to come out. And they did come out shortly. A small stage had been erected on the banks of the Siolim river (or it could be a creek as one of the anchors referred to it). The river water was brown. I was sure I did not want to go inside water. Boats started coming in one by one. Some had mermaid mannequins sitting in them, others had huge flowers. I flew my quad-copter all over the place and more than anyone else, those on the boats loved it. They would wave hands and scream Sao Joao every time the quadcopter would fly pass them. Lara Dutta showed up for a short while on the stage. She has a house in Siolim where she often lives. Overall a fun evening. Hope you like the video that I made.