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The Sao Joao Festival is most pompously celebrated in Goa amongst the Catholic community and is dedicated to St. John the Baptist which is celebrated on 24th June every year. This occasion marks the celebration by the local youth in the villages of Goa who normally get drunk and jump into wells according to the existing tradition of Sao Joao festival.
They consume plenty of fruits on this occasion and are virtually unstoppable when they indulge in revelry. Specially in Salcete taluka, different types of folk dances or Mandos are held which are popularly known as Sangodds. Fruits and other eatables are exchanged between friends and relatives.
It is an existing tradition wherein anyone who owns a well and has a girl who is newly married exchanges pleasantries and food items to their in-laws as is the custom in every Goan village.
It is a real treat to watch the local youth with crowns of leaves and varied fruits on their heads going out in processions carrying Goan liquor along with them and jumping into wells to have fun. Later, they enjoy a lavish feast of meat and seafood marking the end of the festival. The rainy season is a perfect foil for the Sao Joao festival as most of the people enjoy it more when its raining heavily.
The celebration of San Joao in Bardez (North Goa) goes back nearly 150 years, when San Joao revelers from Chapora and Zhor villages of Anjuna, Badem in Assagao and Siolim would come up year after year in boats to the chapel of Sao Joao in Periera Vaddo, Siolim, to pay homage and take part in the traditional dali.
People, especially the newly married or those with a new-born (where new means before after June 24 of the previous year, that is the previous Sao Joao) gather with the dali and gifts containing seasonal fruits like moussrad mango (a Goan variety of mango), pineapples, jackfruits and a bottle of feni.
The young and old alike sing and dance to the beat of the ghumot and kansallem, with lovely coronets of seasonal flowers on their heads and ‘drenched to the bone’ with feni. Many then proceed to jump time and time again into the streams, wells and ponds to keep away the cold from getting them.
Sao Joao still retains it’s traditional flavour and this organisers say is as a result of their decline to commercialize the event.
So if you are looking for fun, frolic and a wet-carnival like atmosphere then San Joao is definitely the best place to be on the 24th June.