Catholics in Goa burn “Jews” at religious feast

The “Jew” that was burned in Goa in India on the eve of 23rd of June. Photo: Goa Herald.

Roman Catholics in Goa in India burn effigies of Jews on the eve of 23rd of June. The tradition has its roots in the burning of Jews during the Inquisition.

Goa Herald is one of four English dailies in Goa. In Sundays edition on page two, a picture of local Roman Catholics are published. They stand in front of “Judeo”, an effigy to be burnt.

The burning of “the Jew” has its ancient roots in the burning of “New Christians” from Portugal during the Goa Inquisition. They were all Jews forcefully converted to Roman Catholicism.

The achieve of this Inquistion tribunal went missing, and historians have different estimate of the number of trials. But an consensus believe there were around 16.000 cases were handled by the clergy in the city of Old Goa. The Goa Inquisition lasted from 1560 A.D to 1812 A.D.  Both Evangelical Christians, Jews and Hindus were burnt at stake in unknown numbers.

Navhind Times in the largest English daily in Goa. On Saturday 23rd of June, Maria De Lourdes Bravo Da Costa Rodrigues published a feature, explaining the rituals taking place on this local feast. In Goa it is named  Sao Joao, or in english fest of John the Baptist.

This is some of the information in the feature:

 – On the eve of the feast, June 23rd, youth make an effigy Judeu, a Jew, from straw, and dress it up in a colorful outfit. Later in the evening the effigy is burnt, and firecrackers are bust.

 It symbolizes that the Old Testament has passed away, and the New Testament has been installed. Some of the youngsters beat the beat the Judeu with a coconut stick (piddo) simultaneous 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.

The feast of Sao Joao in Goa is a display of drunkenness and partying. It is quit common that adults jump into to their own wells as a ritual during the festival, and polluting their own drinking water.

The burning of the “Judeo” was more popular some decades ago. Still this display of antisemitism can get publicity in the Newspaper Goa Herald, which is traditionally the preferred paper of the Roman Catholic. Goa Harald was published in Portuguese up to the 1980-ties, as the main news source for Catholics in a state that was a Portuguese colony up to 1961.

Written by Ivar

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