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Sao Joao Festival 2024

A festival in Goa that is celebrated with lots of joy and fun in a very unique style

Dates: June 24

Sao Joao Festival
Sao Joao Festival
Sao Joao Festival
Sao Joao Festival

The Sao Joao festival, a part of Goa's Portuguese heritage, takes place at the beginning of the monsoon season. This Christian holiday is widely celebrated in North Goa, but it's not that common in the southern part of the region. It is popular mostly among young people in Goan villages. During this day, the Goan youth put on crowns made out of fruits and leaves called 'kopels.' They also jump into wells, streams, and other water sources.

Festival's Traditions

In the early morning of June 24th, the people of Goa gather at the local churches for a Mass. After the ceremony, the Baptist young men and women jump into wells, ponds, and streams to retrieve gifts thrown in there by older members of the community. People wearing kopels and colorful clothes meet near a stream to greet lavishly decorated boats and floats. Interesting boat festivities take place in the village of Siolim, and you can join various cultural activities during the day, such as kopel-making competitions or decorating the boat.

Sangodd Parade

In some southern villages, visitors can observe Sangodd, a large decorated float made from banana tree trunks. The most active villagers parade on Sangodd, singing Mandos and religious hymns about San Joao. All Sangodd parade participants wear traditional costumes, almost like a uniform, which differentiates them from other festival visitors.

Newlyweds make offerings of fruits, flowers, or a bottle of feni. Feni is a spirit produced in Goa from cashew and toddy palm juice. It is consumed in large quantities during the San Joao celebration. Later on, everyone enjoys delicious festive food. There is also a tradition of exchanging fruits and other treats among friends and relatives.

Festival Locations

The Bardez region is considered the prime hotspot for the Sao Joao celebrations. The area has a long history of hosting this festival, dating back almost 150 years. One of the biggest celebrations is annually held in Siolim, a village in the Bardez region. The villagers usually gather at St. Anthony’s Church and then move onto the riverside for the more dynamic parts of the festival. Calangute and Anjuna are among other villages and towns in North Goa that take great pride in their Sao Joao Festival celebrations.

Monsoon Season & Weather

The celebration famously takes place during Goa's most rainy season of the year, monsoon. The clouds roll over the sky, bringing long days of rainfall without much sun. This means the season between June and September draws in fewer tourists and visitors than other months of the year. However, Goa truly flourishes in those months with blooming flowers, rich greenery, and plum fruits. And the Goans brighten up the cloudy days with the carnival of joy, fun and vibrant festivities!

San Joao Festival Origins

The festival falls on the birthday of John the Baptist, a preacher and the predecessor of Jesus. Many traditions of the Goan celebration resemble John's story. Him leaping in his mother's womb at the mention of Jesus is mirrored by the custom of jumping into wells and ponds during the festival. John the Baptist wore clothing made out of natural resources, which translated in the Goan tradition of fruit 'kopels'.

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