By |14 Sep 2023 at 4:21 PM
Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist: Celebration, Traditions, Significance and Rituals

Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist:North Goa celebrates the Sao Joao festival with extraordinary zeal and fervour. According to Christian scriptures, St. John the Baptist leapt for delight in his mother Elizabeth’s womb when she learned of Christ’s birth.

Young men in Goa leap into wells to retrieve gifts thrown in by villagers during this celebration. At the commencement of the monsoon season in Goa, people of all ages jump into wells, ponds, and streams as part of a festival. Feni, a spirit manufactured exclusively in Goa, flows freely at the event. In Soilom, a village in the Bardez taluk of North Goa, there are organised boat competitions. However, not all of Goa celebrates the Sao Joao festival with the same enthusiasm. In the south, celebrations are solemn, whereas in the north, specifically Siolim, Anjuna, Candolim, Calangute, and Assagao, celebrations are accompanied by revelry.

The primary feast day begins with the villagers jumping into the village wells while singing “San Joao” Sangodd is the primary attraction of the day. During this celebration, people march while singing Mando and numerous religious hymns. Participants in the Sangodd wear uniforms to distinguish themselves from other organisations. This is also the time when one’s passion of adventure comes to the fore. There are numerous competitions for young people to showcase their talents. Newlyweds and parents-to-be convene with the dali and seasonal fruits such as jackfruits, pineapples, and a bottle of feni.

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Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist Celebration

The Sao Joao festival is a magnificent celebration of customs and beliefs. It’s another example of the fun-loving nature of the people and their preparedness to sing, dance and make merry.

The festival is observed with tremendous zeal and enthusiasm. Similar to other Goan celebrations, Sao Joao is filled with the spirit of festivity, colour, and tradition. The Goan government is tirelessly promoting this festival by organising various events and competitions, such as pot-breaking contests and amphibian races. All these contribute to the holiday atmosphere. The youth of Goa celebrate this holiday with revelry and daring exploits dedicated to God for the peace and prosperity of all in the coming year.


St. John the Baptist’s Day is associated with long-standing traditions. A procession of children is conducted, with members of the procession going door to door to collect gifts, spirits and fruit. They then pray at any body of water in the city and toss the collectibles there. In addition, young females of marriageable age and brides who hope to be blessed with healthy children toss seasonal fruits, flowers, and vegetables into the well to have their wishes granted.

These are gathered by children who plunge into these wells and ponds. ‘Sao Joao, Sao Joao, Viva Sao Joao’ echoes throughout the environment.

The well is symbolic of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Young people leap into the well or pond to experience the ecstasy that John felt when he was in the womb and Jesus Christ was present. The focus is on recently wedded couples. Water is poured over newlywed daughters-in-law, after which the bride distributes goods such as mangoes, jackfruits, etc., while the groom distributes the locally popular cashewnut hard drink, ‘feni’, beer, etc.

Mother-in-law prepare a complete meal for son-in-law including an array of Goan delicacies, specially sanas with sorpotel, a sweet dish of rice, stuffed with grated coconut, raisins, jaggery called ‘patodio’ and other traditional food embraced with lot of vegetables, salt fish, salt-water mango and the hard circular bread ‘kankonn’ dipped in a brewed in moong dal.