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The Sao Joao festival in Goa is dedicated to St. John the Baptist. Photo SpecialHolidays

Sao Joao is a Catholic festival celebrated in Goa in an unusual manner, with devotees leaping into, and swimming in, domestic drinking water wells, as a form of tribute to St. John the Baptist. This festival is marked by young men in Goa jumping into wells to retrieve the gifts thrown in by the villagers. Held at the beginning of the monsoon season in Goa on the 24-25th of June, it witnesses people of all ages jumping into wells, ponds and streams.

Colorful boat races are organized in Soilom, a village in North Goa’s Bardez taluka. However, the festival of Sao Joao is not celebrated with the same enthusiasm over all of Goa. In the south, the celebrations take a somber tone. It is celebrated with great fervour and gusto particularly in Siolim, Anjuna, Candolim, Calangute and Assagao.

Sao Joao Festival’s Meaning

The Sao Joao festival in Goa is dedicated to St. John the Baptist, who, according to Christian scriptures, leapt with joy at his mother, Elizabeth’s womb, when she was told of the birth of Christ. John, the Baptist, later went on to baptise Jesus in the river Jordan. The well is considered to be a representation of Elizabeth’s womb and a jump into it a sign of joy for the birth of Christ.

The feast of Catholic priest Saint John the Baptist is celebrated six months before Christmas, that is December 25, which is marked as the birthday of Jesus Christ.

How Sao Joao Festival Celebrated?

The entire Sao Joao festival is quite unique which you would have never heard of. The festival starts by the villagers throwing gifts into water bodies like the wells, ponds or even streams. It carries forward with the young men of the villagers. These young men jump into the well and try to retrieve these gifts from the well, pond or stream whatever water body is chosen.

Photo golokaso
Photo golokaso

If you are present there to witness this amazing activity then you can feel yourself the joyous atmosphere where people of all ages jump into the water bodies to get back the gifts thrown by the other villagers. Apart from this gift retrieval activity, people can also witness other fun activities.

What To Eat At Sao Joao Festival

Photo TravelTriangle
Photo TravelTriangle

Feni (a spirit produced exclusively in Goa), overflows during the occasion. People, especially newly married couples or those with a new-born gather with a dali and gifts containing seasonal fruits like moussrad mango (a Goan variety of mango), pineapples, jackfruits and a bottle of feni.

It’s also common to find that Goan delicacy called Patoleo in the bride’s basket. This is a sweet made with finely ground rice flour paste which is applied to fragrant leaves that can be as large as a banana leaf. The two sides of the leaf are stuck together after a yummy mixture of freshly scraped coconut and jaggery is filled in the center – the whole leaf and the filling is then steam cooked in a large copper vessel. Sannaas – rice cakes, are another delicacy that you’ll find in the basket.

**READ MORE: 10 Weird Foods In India

Sao Joao Festival’s Activities

Jumping into wells? Well, It’s Fun

Photo golokaso
Photo golokaso

That’s right. Attendees jump into wells just for the fun of it. Be sure to join in, if you’re feeling adventurous. Even if you are not a pool person, the natural downpour or the artificial rain dance which the villagers arrange is as enjoyable as springing into a well.

Get ready for some cosplay

Photo golokaso
Photo golokaso

Not to be missed are the lovely coronets locals wear that are carefully stitched together with leaves, flowers and fresh fruits. They are also called the ‘Kopel’ in Konkani. Goans are a sporting bunch of people and camera shy in the least of the sense. Kopels and costumes all the way.1. Boat Race

In one of the village areas, a boat race is carried out. There are boats decorated with colors and sparkles. You can literally witness the colorful boats by the shore awaiting a fun activity before the race begins. In the Northern part of Goa, the entire festival is celebrated with utmost enthusiasm and celebration while the level of enthusiasm remains a little low in the southern regions of Goa.


Apart from all these pre celebrations, the festival of Sao Joao is witnesses the main feast day which is celebrated with a higher enthusiasm level. The feast of Sao Joao festival is one special kind as it takes care of the luxury of everyone.


Apart from the feast, during the main celebration day, many other fun activities are also carried out which involves a lot of people and a lot of fun. The villagers plunge into the water bodies while singing the native “San Joao”.

Royal Parades

Royal parades are prepared for a long time and they are launched on the very exact day when the feast is made. The whole thing is called Sangodd where people single a lot of native and religious songs and hymns throughout the parade. The people participating in the parade are dressed in well tailored uniforms that make the whole parade looked extremely magnificent and beautiful.


People who have been blessed with any good news recently like a wedding or birth of a child are blessed through this festival. Apart from this, a number of competitions are arranged for people of all age groups, especially for all the youngsters. These competitions are held in a fun and healthy manner. The entire Sao Joao festival is a festival of celebration, fun, and enthusiasm.

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