‘Today, the boat is treated like a newlywed bride; we perform all the ceremonies as are done for a bride’, says Samiksha Gowari.
As per culture and traditions, a newlywed bride will be given rice and coconut by married women to bless her with a long and happy married life. The same ritual was carried out for the fishing boat where the women leave a coconut and rice. Haldi (turmeric) and kumkum (vermilion powder) – symbols of auspiciousness – are applied to the boat. The women have haldi on their faces, as it is before weddings. This cultural moment represents recognition of women’s role in the continuation of this community-based enterprise.
Women are not permitted to enter the fishing boats throughout the year. It is only during this festival of Holi that they do so. Family members pray for a good catch and a successful fishing season. The festivities go on for two days; during the night, there are bonfires all over the village. Offerings of fish, rice, flowers and coconut are made. There is a jubilant feeling all around and celebrations with music and dancing at night.
Ethnographic documentation Ishita Patil