• soa joao in goa

Celebrating Sao Joao in Goa by Jumping in Wells

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.

sao joao in goa

sao joao in goa

sao joao in goaphoto source

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.

sao joao in goaphoto 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.

sao joao in goa

sao joao in goa

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.

sao joao in goa playing at our villa’s shared pool

sao joao in goa

sao joao in goa

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?

For more information on all the festivals in Goa check out my 170-page e-book, Insider’s Guide to Goa. After five years of living in Goa, I am confident this book is the most comprehensive, up-to-date guide to Goa it has all my secrets inside. Click here to buy it now.


About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Ken Kai July 16, 2014 at 5:42 am - Reply


    Looks like a great time! :) Getting drunk and jumping in pools. Dangerous in some ways, but so much fun I am sure! :D

    • Rachel Jones July 16, 2014 at 6:36 am - Reply

      yeah a little dangerous for sure.. I was too scared to jump!

  2. Cindy July 16, 2014 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    It’s actually pretty nice to travel anywhere during Monsoon : less people & cheaper. You can get the whole beach to yourself, and yes, you’ll get a bit wet but it’s still warm !

  3. Rebekah Voss July 17, 2014 at 9:22 am - Reply

    This looks like SO much fun! Why does the rest of the world incorporate water into their holidays and we insist on keeping water in the water parks?

    • Rachel Jones July 18, 2014 at 1:34 am - Reply

      Because we are lame lol. On holi kids were dumping buckets of dyes water into people’s cars through the window and I kept thinking my god if they did this is the US people would go mental!

  4. Renuka July 17, 2014 at 11:55 am - Reply

    Sounds like a lovely festival. I wasn’t aware of it. But I wish it didn’t involve drinking!

    • Rachel Jones July 18, 2014 at 1:34 am - Reply

      Ahhh but all the festivals in Goa involve drinking ;) It’s just the way of the state I guess!

  5. Justine July 17, 2014 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    India looks like a blast. Seriously everything fascinates me about it. This festival looks crazy…in a good way!

    • Rachel Jones July 18, 2014 at 1:35 am - Reply

      even living here it still fascinates me all the time! It’s such a lively place.

  6. Agness July 17, 2014 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    Wow, these people do really know how to celebrate!!!!

  7. Jessica of Curiosity Journeys July 17, 2014 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    Looks fun! Glad you took part and showed those men up! Love the palm skirt ;)

    • Rachel Jones July 18, 2014 at 1:38 am - Reply

      Thanks, the skirt was so funny bc the woman who made me it made one first that took 20 minutes and it was way to small to pull up and she’s like “ahhh nice you are much fatter than you look!! I make BIG one for you!!!” haha fuck.

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