Sao Joao festival is immensely popular in North Goa and is celebrated with amazing enthusiasm and gusto. The festival 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.
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, it witnesses people of all ages jumping into wells, ponds and streams. Feni (a spirit produced exclusively in Goa), overflows during the occasion. 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, while in the North, particularly Siolim, Anjuna, Candolim, Calangute and Assagao, celebrations are accompanied by celebrations and merriment.
The main feast day commences with the villagers taking a plunge into the village wells singing the “San Joao”. The main attraction of the day is Sangodd. On this occasion, people take out parades while singing Mando and various religious hymns. People participating in the Sangodd are dressed in a uniform to distinguish them from other groups. This is also the time when one’s adventurous spirit comes to the surface. Several competitions are held to allow the youths to exhibit their talents. People who have recently got married or blessed with a new-born gather with the dali along with seasonal fruits like jackfruits, pineapples and a bottle of feni.
The Sao Joao festival is a wonderful celebration of traditions and beliefs. It’s another example of the fun-loving nature of the people and their readiness to sing, dance and make merry.