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The Sao Joao Festival is most pompously celebrated in Goa amongst the Catholic community and is dedicated to St. John the Baptist which is celebrated on 24th June every year. This occasion marks the celebration by the local youth in the villages of Goa who normally get drunk and jump into wells according to the existing tradition of Sao Joao festival.The Sao Joao Festival is an annual Christian feast started by a baptist St. John that is celebrated as a water festival.The old age tradition that has its roots in Portugal.

1. Extraordinary significance in Christianity

This monsoon feast has special significance in Christianity as it is dedicated to St John the Baptist, the firebrand prophet.Christian scripture tells us of John the Baptist bounding for happiness in his mother, Elizabeth’s womb when she was told of Jesus’ birth.John, the Baptist later went on to bless Jesus in the river Jordan. The well is considered to be a depiction of Elizabeth’s womb and a jump into it is a sign of delight for the birth of Christ.The celebration of San Joao in Bardez (North Goa) goes back nearly 150 years, when San Joao merrymakers from Chapora and Zhor villages of Anjuna, Badem in Assagao and Siolim would come up year after year in boats to the chapel of Sao Joao in PerieraVaddo, Siolim, to pay tribute and take part in the traditional dali.

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2. Enthusiastic locals

Merriments start early in the morning in the village of Benaulim (South Goa)  which has the church of Saint John the Baptist along with other districts of Goa. Be definite to halt by early and have a tête-à-tête with some of thefervent locals. Newly-married duos and young womenfolk of child-bearing age are particularly in the limelight during Sao Joao as it is also referred to as ‘the Festival of Fertility.’ The super warm and keen locals of Goa could make you feel at home when you join them on the vivaciousfiesta!

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3. What a Lavish Feast!

They devour plenty of fruits on this occasion and are almost unstoppable when they indulge in gaiety. Fruits and other eatables are swappedamid friends and relations.  They relish anextravagantmeal of meat and seafood marking. The gastronomical glees of traditional goan food embracessorpotel and sannas, pulao, sausage, feijoadas among other dishes and plenty of Feni to go about and camaraderie to top it all off!

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4. Jump into Wells.

The locals and all who go to join the fiesta, rejoice the bliss of living and Christ’s birth by hopping into the wells! This is one of the most momentous parts of the entire festival and gives immense delight to everyone who enthusiastically participates into the activity!

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5. Vibrant Costumes

People reveling at the carnival don livelyget-ups and coronets called ‘Koupal’ that are made with fruits, fresh flowers, leaves, and vines. It is a real delight to watch the indigenous youth with circlets of leaves and varied fruits on their heads going out in parades carrying Goan liquor along with them and jumping into wells to have fun.

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6. What an extravaganza!

In Salcetetaluka, diverse types of folk dances or Mandos are held which are prevalentlyidentified as Sangodds. The festival is also marked by a custom in which youngsters go door to door round the areas and gatherpresents, fruits, and liquor. The rainy season is a faultless foil for this fiesta as most of the folks relish it even more when it rains. The occasion involves a lot of singing and dancing to the beat of the ghumot and kansallem with the folks ‘drenched to the bone’ with feni.Getting to any of the main locations for the display of floats is a task for anyone not on foot, with the small roads getting a decade’s share of traffic.  People dressed in colourful outfits from several villages meet near a stream front in carnival-coloured boats and floats. It is akin to the Carnival in few ways.

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It is celebrated with great fervour and gusto, particularly in Siolim, Anjuna, Candolim, Calangute and Assagao. For fun, frolic and a wet-carnival like atmosphere then San Joao is definitely the best place to be on the 24th June.

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