The birthday of St. John the Baptist (Sao Joao in Portuguese), is one of Goa’s favourite monsoon festivals. This day, the 24th of June is a gala occasion in Goa with the people getting together to venerate the saint as well as to welcome the onslaught of the monsoon. The festivities go on all day with pool parties and parties around wells and other water bodies.
The mood is festive and colourful; the people prepare headdresses of fruits and greenery for themselves and for visitors. The delicious aromas of Goan dishes fill the air and the popular drink, Feni is enjoyed by all. Anyone and everyone are welcome to join in with most hotels and guesthouses organizing pool parties, or if you’re looking for a more authentic flavour you can visit the nearest village well.
Where to go
Traditionally, Goa Tourism Development Corporation organises a Sao Joao cruise from the Santa Monica Jetty (Panjim).
There is music, dancing, feasting and a good time is had by all. Tickets can be bought in the days preceding Sao Joao.
Although the feast is celebrated all over Goa, some of the main party centres are Anjuna, Candolim, Calangute and Assagao, where the biggest festivities are held and all are welcomed to join in.
Those who want to see the boat decorating competition and the sailing of the boats down the river should make their way to Siolim.
The sister festival of Ponsachem, highlights the use of jackfruit is celebrated in the Socorro village in the northern part of Goa. This is great place for foodies who would like to taste some of the delicious Goan traditional delicacies.
Traditionally the festivities start with prayers for a good monsoon. The headdresses of fruit and foliage signify abundance and greenery, both associated with a good monsoon. The jumping into wells venerates the baptism in the river Jordan and signifies a renewal of life. This feast is especially sacred to newlyweds, new parents and people who have just bought new houses.
A procession of villagers singing mandos go around to the houses of these people, crowning them with festive headgear and singing for a while around the house before proceeding. The food and drink is traditionally donated by the new sons-in-law (the ones who have gotten married within the last year) of the village.
The South-west monsoons which lash Goa every year are vital to the people of Goa, who depend on the monsoons to ensure a good harvest and also to replenish their wells and other sources of water. Additionally, if the monsoons are unseasonal (arrive to early or too late) they can destroy the delicate cashew flowers, thus wiping out the cashew crop, which is a major source of income. Cashew nuts are popular with tourists and locals alike and the fruit is used to make the local drink called Feni.More About San Joao