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April 21, 2015

June’s Sao Joao Celebration in Goa

Every year, in June, Goa merrily celebrates the vibrant Sao Joao festival. The roots of the festival can be traced back to Portugal, where we note that the festival is equally joyed and revered.

Every 24th day of June celebrates the feast St. John the Baptist. As a customary ritual, young people (traditionally young men) jump into intimate wells and similar water bodies to help themselves with gifts. These gifts have been thrown by the friendly villagers. This is cheered by the entire village. As always, Goans need a reason to come together and celebrate!

However, this festival sees a lesser influence in South Goa. Essentially a Christian celebration, Bardez is most preferred location to experience this. Siolim in Bardez is probably the most sought-after village. Here, they go out of their way to decorate boats with colourful adornments and organise boat races. It is truly a beautiful sight. These merry colours spread across the villages of Assagao, Candolim, Anjuna and Calangute, among others.

It is an enthusiastic scene where plenty of young and excited people pin their noses and take a plunge into the community water body. Apart from being a good opportune to meet and familiarise with neighbours, it also reinforces the strong cultural traditions of the state. This jump can be performed a number of times.

The plunge is simultaneously supported by local songs. The San Joao is sung by those around the pond. The other derivative music praises include religious hymns and singing Mandos.

This festival is widely celebrated by newly wed couples and parents-to-be. The reason for this is because Sao Joao is also considered the Festival of Fertility.

The vibe and feel of the festivity replicates the Goa Carnaval at a certain level. Dressed in colourful costumes and vibrant masquerades make their presence felt everywhere. It is not tough to completely immerse yourself in this Goan experience. So pack up now and join the merriment.

Best place: Siolim village, Bardez.

Best time: Roughly around 3PM in the afternoon with the procession marking the start of the festival.

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