San Jao

If you want to watch a most pompously celebrated religious occasion in Goa, then the Sao Joao Festival celebrated by the Catholic community dedicated to St. John the Baptist is a must see. Though a religious celebration, this fete is more of a youngsters’ festival celebrated by newlywed couples and the unmarried. They wear Kopels (floral crowns) on their heads, dance to the beat of drums, march to a nearby water body and then jump into it shouting ‘Viva San Joao’. The end of the festival is marked by a lavish feast of meat and seafood along with live music performances.

The festival is celebrated to commemorate the leap of joy experienced by St. John while he was in the womb of his mother Elizabeth when Mother Mary came to inform her that she was pregnant. Hence the custom of people jumping into a water body is considered to be the leap of joy felt by St. John and the water body itself is considered to be reminiscent of the womb of Elizabeth.

This festival is celebrated with high spirit in the north of Goa, especially in Siolim, Anjuna, Calanguate and Assagao. Along with Kopel and the jumping into water, colorfully decorated floats, the Sangodds, made by joining boats using banana trunks covered with coconut palms, forms another important attraction of the celebration.