Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Narali Purnima festival rituals and traditions

Narali refers to coconut and Purnima to the full moon. The Indian festival of Narali Purnima is celebrated by the fisherfolk, primarily in Maharashtra, on the full moon day during Shravan.This full moon day also coincides with Rakhi Purnima, better known as Raksha Bandhan.

Why is Narali Purnima celebrated?
The period prior to the full moon day of Shravan is the mating period of fish. Fisherfolk hence do not go fishing, so as not to kill fish since otherwise there would be no further production of fish which would subsequently affect the very lives of the fisherfolk. It thus follows that, during this time, fish is not eaten. This observance of non-eating of fish comes to an end on the day of Narali Purnima, when a coconut is thrown into the sea during high tide. The time of the high tide is calculated as follows: Dashmi (No.10) x ¾ = 7.30p.m. High tide means the sea is in its full fury and the coconut is offered to calm it.

Why are coconuts offered to the sea on Naraili Purnima day?
The coconut is considered to be a holy offering to Gods during practically all Hindu festivals. This is because every part of the coconut tree – bark, leaves, the coconut itself – is beneficial to man & is thus an auspicious offering to the Gods. Hence, on Narali Purnima day it is offered to the sea God during high tide as an offering to calm the sea.

What are the rituals and traditions of Narali Purnima?
A few days prior to Narali Purnima, fisherfolk repair their fishing nets and plug any leaking holes in their boats and ships. They even give it a fresh coat of paint if necessary or new boats are purchased. The boats are decorated with colourful buntings.

On the day of Narali Purnima, the fisherfolk prepare coconut-based food, such as karanjis, coconut rice, etc. Just before high tide, they come out at the sea side dressed in traditional attire with the women folk wearing gold jewellery. They sing traditional fisherfolk songs, dance with gaiety and throw coconuts far into the sea.

It is after Narali Purnima that fisher folk can again cast their nets and resume their fishing.

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