The Indian Express | 6 days ago | 23-06-2022 | 10:40 pm
As in every monsoon, Catholics in Goa will celebrate Sao Joao, the feast of St John the Baptist, on Friday. The celebrations will include revellers sporting crowns made of fruits, flowers and leaves, and the major draw of the feast is the water bodies – wells, ponds, fountains, rivers – in which the revellers take the “leap of joy”. Enjoyed by children and adults alike, the festival also includes playing the traditional gumott (percussion instrument), a boat festival, servings of feni, and a place of pride for new sons-in-law.What is Sao Joao and where is it celebrated in Goa?In Goa, Catholics celebrate all the feasts of the Roman Catholic Church, which include the feast of St John the Baptist on June 24 (John the Baptist because he had baptised Jesus Christ on the river Jordan). Traditionally, there are spirited Sao Joao festivities in the villages of Cortalim in South Goa and Harmal, Baga, Siolim and Terekhol in North Goa. However, over the years, pool parties and private Sao Joao parties in Goa have been a “complete package of merriment and joy” for tourists, according to the Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC).What does jumping into water bodies symbolise?In the 2004 edition of her book Feasts, Festivals and Observances of Goa, author and historian Maria de Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues wrote: “The youngsters in Goa celebrate this occasion with revelry and perform daredevil feats, by jumping into over flowing wells or rivulets… The boys are found merrily jumping into the water to commemorate the leap of joy, which St John is said to have taken in the womb of his mother St Elizabeth when virgin Mary visited her.”The festivities also include revellers wearing the Kopel, the crown of fruits, flowers and leaves, parading in villages and often well hopping from one place to another as they chant, “Sao Joao! Viva Sao Joao”. Villagers gather near the well and cheer for those throwing and dunking themselves into the water. Full-throated renditions of Konkani songs written for the occasion are accompanied by traditional musical instruments like the gumott and cansaim (cymbal).Rodrigues writes that the revellers are treated with sweets, fruits and a peg of feni. “There have been a number of tragedies due to the alcohol consumption, and the revellers jumping in an inebriated condition. To avoid these, some groups carry with them a ladder made of rope so that in case of an accident, the same can be used to get the person out of the well,” she writes. “Some groups do not drink and collect the bottles instead of drinking them. They then auction these and use the money for a good cause.”What other events are part of Sao Joao festivities?Among the prominent festivities on Friday will be the Sao Joao boat parade in Siolim that usually sees visitors running into thousands. The Sao Joao traditional boat festival started in 1992 and is held in front of St Anthony’s Church in the village, now also the pin code for many upscale properties. A stage is erected and participants show up in vibrant costumes and prizes are awarded by the best decorated boat, dress and kopel (crown).Baga may be better known as a tourist hub but it too has a Sao Joao tradition that Rodrigues writes about. In this bustling part of North Goa’s coastal belt, sangodd is celebrated as a part of the feast of St John the Baptist. “Two boats are tied together to make a sangodd, which means union, unity and junction. The tying of the boat signifies the unity of the village… In fact, the sangodd brings the whole community of Baga together and becomes an occasion when friends and relatives are entertained. Along the route, on both the borders of the Baga river, people gather to participate and woo the sangodd,” Rodrigues writes.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxWhat is the importance assigned to new sons-in-law?In Goa, Sao Joao is an occasion for the family and the villagers to get to know their newly wed daughters’ husbands a little better. Traditionally, the new son-in-law would be crowned with festive headgear of fruits and leaves, taken around the village and would then jump into the well with other revelers.Rodrigues writes: “The tradition of taking the son-in-law around the village comes from a very sad incident… a new son-in-law came to visit his in laws. However, on his way back home, he met with an accident and died. Unfortunately, the people did not know him, as he was not introduced to the villagers. Therefore, they decided that in the future, they would introduce the son-in-law to the villagers and the feast of St John the Baptist would be a good occasion to do so.”
Panaji: With the Mopa International airport expected to be commissioned in September, Goa is set to see an increased flow of travellers. While development at the beginning of the tourist season ought to have made the tourism industry euphoric, concerns have risen over alleged non-implementation of taxi meters. Trade members have alleged that though tourist taxis have been fitted with meters, operators are still not billing travellers as per metre rates and fear that, as an immediate fallout, hotels in South Goa may be affected. A hotelier from North Goa, Francisco de Braganca, said that tourist taxi operators continue to charge exorbitantly and added that the transport department does not have a mechanism in place to check if they are using meters. "If you charge Rs 3,000-4,000 for a one-way journey from North Goa to South Goa, we are afraid hotels in South Goa may lose clients," he said.
The Goa government’s decision to issue show-cause notices to two hotels in which Leader of the Opposition Michael Lobo has a stake has turned into a political hot potato. The state administration has alleged that the two premises violated permissions granted by the North Goa Planning and Development Authority (NGPDA) and the Congress leader claiming that he was being targeted. Leading the charge against Lobo is his former ministerial colleague and Town and Country Planning (TCP) minister Vishwajit Rane.Lobo was earlier with the BJP and was a member of the Pramod Sawant Cabinet. He was the only Cabinet minister to join the Congress ahead of the Assembly elections earlier this year. The Opposition leader, whose wife Delilah is now the Congress MLA from Siolim, is considered to be a political heavyweight from north Goa’s Bardez taluka. He is a three-time MLA from Calangute and an influential figure in the taluka where popular beaches such as Baga, Calangute, Candolim and Anjuna are located. This area has been a thriving tourist spot for decades, with several hotels, restaurants and places for tourist activities.But Rane dismissed his former Cabinet colleague’s claim. “This is not a witch hunt,” he said on Friday. “Anyone, however big they are, whether it is Mika Singh or anyone else, action will be taken against violators.”Singh who is a singer also received a show-cause notice on Thursday for a property being constructed. The Anjuna village panchayat’s notice to him alleged violations of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms. A complaint against the construction was also made to the TCP department.Rane, who also holds the health, forests, and women and child development portfolios, is perceived to be the second-most powerful person in the government after Sawant. Rane was in the running for the top post before BJP’s central leadership decided to give Sawant another term at the helm of the state. Though the minister has so far refrained from naming Lobo, he mentioned hotels Baga Deck and Nazri Resort — in which the Opposition leader is a partner — during an interaction with the media on Thursday. He told reporters, “We have issued a show-cause notice for demolition. It is a fit case for demolition … These are the people who give gyaan (preach to) the people of Goa. It will be my endeavour to ensure the demolition takes place in my tenure. People who have been in power have misused power for personal gains.”Continuing the attack on Lobo on Friday, Rane said, “You need to go into history from 15 years ago. Such wealth is not amassed overnight.”Earlier, Rane and Lobo sparred over the TCP department’s decision to suspend the outline development plans. Rane had said that the plans of Parra-Arpora-Nagoa, Calangute-Candolim (all in Bardez) and Vasco (south Goa) would be reviewed because of “discrepancies”.Lobo initially said the department’s decision to review the plans was not necessary and added that the plans cannot be undone each time a new minister takes over. He said that three ministers had presided over the department in the last five years and they were all either BJP MLAs or those supporting the government.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inbox“What sort of example are you trying to set?” Lobo asked, refuting allegations that he had changed land use in the area while he was a minister. “People have built homes, hotels and now one minister comes and says, ‘This is wrong, I will revoke it’. What is the meaning of this? We will write to the CM that investors who have come to Goa are very scared. They don’t know what to do. Nobody wants to come to Goa and have a fight with the government. The same BJP government has done the plan and this minister wants to undo it and do it himself.”Rane responded by saying that “anything can be opened at any time if it is wrong and illegal”. He added, “We want the business sentiment. We want people to invest in Goa. Anyone who has got their rightful things will continue to do business in Goa. But if anyone has taken tenanted land, converted a non-development slope, or converted Khazan lands … these should not happen. Who has partnered with people coming from north India and Delhi? Who are these 30-40 per cent partners? All this will come out in the report I will table in the Assembly.”On Thursday, asked by reporters about the action taken against Lobo, Rane replied, “Who is he? I can’t remember.” Lobo responded by saying, “That is his style of speaking … I cannot speak in that language.”On Friday, Lobo said he had not yet received the show-cause notices and would reply to them when he did. He claimed that his party colleagues were behind him, and added that the properties facing scrutiny had been built in 2007. “In a healthy democracy, the Opposition should not be targeted like this. That is why the CM needs to step in,” the Opposition leader said.Sawant has said he will go through what has transpired between Rane and Lobo, and intervene.
Panaji: Vegetable vendors that operate outlets of the Goa State Horticulture Corporation Limited (GSHCL) will be able to share their grievances with the corporation at a vendors’ meeting which will be held on June 12. Vendors will be given an opportunity to discuss various issues and offer suggestions pertaining to the activities of GSHCL outlets, and to resolve the same to ensure better services to people. For GSHCL vendors in North Goa, the meeting will be held at Dev Bodgeshwar Sansthan Hall, Mapusa, from 10am to 12.30pm. For South Goa GSHCL vendors, the meeting will be at the conference hall of Ravindra Bhavan, Margao, from 3pm to 5.30pm. The meeting will be chaired by Mayem MLA and GSHCL chairman Premendra Shet.
A 22-year-old man was Tuesday arrested for allegedly raping a British woman at Arambol in North Goa under the pretext of giving her a mud bath. The Goa police arrested Joel D’souza after an FIR under Section 376 (punishment for rape) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was registered against him, Shobhit Saksena, Superintendent of Police, North Goa said.According to the police, D’souza had posed as a masseuse and lured the woman to Sweet Water Lake in Arambol under the pretext of giving her a mud bath. However, he was not a professional masseuse and had taken advantage of the woman because she was alone, added the police. The woman who was in Goa on a tourist visa had approached the UK consulate for assistance. She approached the police with officials of the consulate in Goa to file a complaint on Monday. The FIR was registered at the Pernem Police Station.Earlier this week, the Goa police also started a crackdown on illegal massage parlours, hawkers, and touts operating in the state. On Sunday, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who holds the home portfolio, had said, “We will take action against illegal massage parlours. I have already instructed the police department that all illegal massage parlours will be shut down from tomorrow. Only those who have a spa license and beauty parlour license, those who are registered with the health, police and tourism department, will be allowed to run. In Ayurvedic panchakarma centres, massage parlours, there should be Ayurvedic practitioners.”Saksena said that the police had already begun taking action against illegal massage parlours, hawkers, and touts. With this, hawkers selling small items on beaches, braiding hair, and offering massages on the beach have also been disallowed. The police have said that no masseuse without a license will be allowed to operate.Saksena said, “All massage parlours have been directed to keep their licenses visible with the names of the masseuse. Tourists are also being informed that no cross-massage is permitted in Goa which means males can be massaged only by a male masseuse and females only by a female. There is also an extensive crackdown on hawkers and touts. People are also advised not to take assistance from guides, touts and not purchase anything from hawkers. More than 100 hawkers have been booked in the last one month.”
PANAJI: A total of only 2,721 persons including senior citizens, healthcare and frontline workers, received their booster doses on Sunday for Tika Utsav even as Goa’s case positivity rose to 7.1% on Sunday. Goa reported 41 new Covid-19 cases after a total of 581 samples were tested. On Saturday, 36 had tested positive. This has taken the active tally to 262. There were zero deaths and hospitalisations on the day, an official said. North Goa reported administering 1,317 doses and South Goa 1,404 doses on Sunday. The booster doses are being offered free at government setups for these three categories, provided they have completed nine months after the second dose. State immunologist Dr Rajendra Borkar said the efficacy is 50-60% with one dose and 60-70% with two doses. “This is not enough to protect us. The efficacy is 90% and above with the booster dose, and this will protect us from Covid,” he said. Health centre teams will to go door-to-door to vaccinate those who are bed-ridden, he said.