The feast of São João has its origin in the persecution of burning of Jews that took place during the Inquisition of Goa.
During the fest of São João, we can see the joy of the people of Goa dancing in the monsoon rain. But few Goan’s are aware of the deeply rooted antisemitism that is exposed during this Catholic feast.
In Nahvind Times, on June 23rd, in the section of Buzz, Maria De Lourdes Bravo Da Costa Rodrigues gives the reader some valuable insight in the spiritual and theological foundations of São João. She writes:
“On the eve of the feast, June 23, youth make an effigy of Judeu, a Jew, from straw, and dress it up in a colourfull outfit. Later in the evening the effigy is burnt and firecrackers are burst”.
During the Inquisition of Goa, Jews were sentenced by the religious tribunal, to be burnt at stake. Catarina de Orta, the sister of Garcia de Orta was arrested as a Jew and burned at the stake for Judaism in Goa in 1569 A.D.
During the years from 1560 A.D to 1812 A.D an unknown number of Jews and Jewish converts to Catholicism, called “New Christians”, were burnt at stake in Old Goa.
There seems to be a need to request all Goan’s not to feast over these crimes against humanity, committed by the religious community of Old Goa. The Goa Government should rather set up an Inquisition Memorial in Goa, a site that can symboliz the need for forgiveness and reconciliation, acknowledging the need for an apology for the crimes committed in the past.
It is also my hope that I never again will see Goan youth burning an effigy of “Judeu”.
The claimed Biblical foundation of the feast of São João, is also another example of antisemitism. Maria De Lourdes Bravo Da Costa Rodrigues writes:
” It symbolizes that the Old Testament had passed away and the New Testament has been installed. Some of the youngsters beat the Judeu with a coconut stick (piddo), simultaneously shouting abuses and condemning him. The beating of Judeu probably symbolizes the animosity against the Jews, who objected to Christianity. The effigy could also represent Judas, Christ’s apostle, who betrayed him for a sum of thirty pieces of silver”.
If this Catholic writer is correct, and the Old Testament has passed away, so have the 10 commandments. Mankind is now free to lie, steal, work on the Sabbath, commit adulatory and dishonor their mothers and father.
If the Old Testament has passed away, so have the Psalms and all Prophecies. Not only Judaism and the Law of Moses. The Bible that Jesus was carrying in his hands, are no longer valid. The New Testament is written after Jesus resurrected, and ascended into Heaven. In the New Testament, Jesus the Messiah is quoted saying the the radical opposite of a possible abolishment of Judaism.
Matthew 5: 17-19
‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven”.
All religious communities are free to think whatever they like about the Bible. But for a Christian, the Bible is the highest authority in all matters of faith. Keep also in mind that John The Baptist did not touch alcohol, unlike what we see in the various São João parties of Goa.
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.
It is my hope that all Goan’s will take a stand against the crimes of antisemitism that has been committed in past, and take a stand against antisemitism in the Goan society today. We should rather support the Jewish people and the state of Israel, than forgetting them or ignoring them.
Written by Ivar Fjeld