A huge crowd of people gathered around a well, giggles and jingles, talks and songs, people having fun, all decked up in colourful ‘ready to get drenched’ outfits, young and old all in jolly high spirits. There is a splash of water and I am drenched. No offense taken this time as hello… Its the Sao Joao festival..
Most of you’ll will be aware of this celebration in Goa. To those who are not, allow me tell you..
Sao Joao is an age old traditional Goan catholic festival, yet celebrated and enjoyed by every one irrespective of religion, caste and creed with equal pomp and gaiety. It’s celebrated yearly on the 24th of June.
The main attraction of the feast is the ‘JUMP’. A jump in wells and lakes for fun sake. However this has a deep religious symbolism to the Catholics.
Wells and feast? What’s the association??
Religious significance: As the bibilical story goes: Mother Mary when she was expecting baby Jesus, went to meet her cousin Elizabeth who was expecting baby John the Baptist (in whose memory Sao Joao is celebrated). Hearing Mother Mary’s voice baby John leaped in his mothers womb with joy.
So that’s the reason why the jumping in the well is done. Water also holds significance as later St. John baptised Jesus Christ in the river Jordan .
Traditional significance: This tradition has deep roots in the culture of goa, being celebrated by our forefathers. There are numerous churches which celebrate this festival as the feast of their patron saint. Like in the north of Goa- Pilerne and Carambolim 8 kms and 16 kms from capital Panjim respectively and in the south Benaulim- 9 kms from the main town of Margao.
Rituals: The main celebration is the church mass. Later, Eveings are usually fun filled with lot of activities. As I said usually people take to jumping in the wells or other water bodies screaming “viva Sao joao” and singing old songs. People feast on seasonal fruits like jackfruits, mangoes,and pineapples too. Booze is also available especially within village celebrations, but that’s mostly for the villagers only.
Another highlight of this gathering are the People wearing the traditional ‘KOPPEL’ ie a headgear made of flowers and twigs and even fruits at times. They are beautiful to look at and adds to the glory of the occasion. Best koppel competitions are usually held.
Some other things that happen:
-Usually people offer fruits and other eatables as an offering or treat after major events like marriage, exams, babies and some happy events like that.
-People young and old scream viva sao joao, sing folk songs and jump in wells.
-It is a festival for couple’s..and Newly married couples are the presiding guests and the girls of the village come home with their hubbies.
Places to go
A village nestled deep in the north of Goa, Siolim, approximately 23 kms from the capital Panjim, is a famous spot one must be at on the Sao Joao day. There are boat floats, competition, a huge crowd and lots of fun activities.
-Apart from that Every village has their own small celebrations.
-Rain dances are held in many places. The jump in wells and lakes is slowly being replaced by artificial rain.
-You can experience these all around the capital town Panjim. Give it a try
-Pool parties are a big hit among the young crowd, but that misses the old world charm and the very essence of the festival.
I would say traditional is the best.
Where will I be heading..
Firstly to Siolim where the event starts by 3:00 p.m
Followed by celebrations (rain dance) in my own tiny village.
Looking forward to this day as I do every year.
Viva Sao Joao…⛈️