Every year in monsoon on June 24th, Christians celebrate Sao Joao in Goa in dedication to John the Baptist. There are lots of Christians in Goa because of the Portuguese influence so you see beautiful churches like in Old Goa. Because there is such a big bunch of believers here, they have a festival in Siolim that includes boat races.
On top of the legitimate festival, families take their kids to jump in wells all over the villages, or like last year they come swim in the pool. It’s a time for splashing, cannon balls, and squirt guns.
Apparently, on this day years ago, John the Baptist leaped in his mom’s belly when his mom was told of the birth of Jesus. He later baptized Jesus in the Jordan river. This holiday is particularly big for people newly married or with newborns.
Like most festivals in India, and especially Goa, this is done drunk. As I showed you in my story about visiting the waterfall, the men are wasted and dancing around in underwear. On Sao Joao there is also quite a bit of booze involved, kind of like Holi.
photo via Siolim Sao Joao FB page
Lots of Goans have big wells outside their homes, like my friend Ryance. We went up to his well to watch people jump in. I have bungee jumped and love to cliff jump, but for some reason I was really scared of this well. I guess I was afraid it wasn’t deep enough. Ben, who typical never does anything involving heights, took the plunge.
Locals make headbands and crowns out of palm leaves and exchange fruit with one another. One of the best things about Goa is that non-christians take part in the festivals like Sao Joao and Christians also celebrate the Hindu traditions. Everyone gets along and you never hear of any religious conflicts like you sometimes do with Hindus and Muslims in other parts of India.
playing at our villa’s shared pool
Interestingly enough, while doing my research about this holiday, I noticed almost all article say that young MEN partake, jump in wells, and drink. Not the women and little girls. Like everything in Goa, yes it was mostly men, but I did see girls partake. Village women typically never drink though.
Would you enjoy playing during Sao Joao?
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Rachel Jones is an American who left a career in nursing to live on the beaches on Goa, India two years ago where she is now a Thai masseuse, candle-maker, and travel writer. Her award winning website gives advice on the other 28 countries she's been to but has become the go-to site on India travel, focusing on off beat places & “glamorous travel”. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE magazine & was voted by Flipkey as one of the top 25 female bloggers to follow this year. You can follow her adventures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google plus.
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