Koli culture

Koli culture

a fisherman community from western coast is present in and costal area of and neighboring states. The unique culture is diminishing because of accelerated growths in mega cities like Mumbai. The hunger of economic growth has compromised on the very existence of these communities. Here is some information about the culture, profession and some finer details.


- Koliwada: is the main residential area of community. This is located very close to sea shore but safer and firm ground.

- Market: is the area which is in main business location. It is usually somewhere near the entrance of the locality or at the bus stand or main road. Usually this is open area. Very few koli communities could afford to build dedicated market area reserved for koli women.

- Bandar / dhakka: is the see shore boat jetty where fishing boats are anchored. Many fishing nets and other accessories are stored around this area. This area usually is open area and also a location for gathering of many folks in special events. In summer this area is also used for drying out the fish.

Business cycle

- Pre Monsoon: This is a peak period. Koli need to be prepared for tough monsoon which is a low earning period. This time fishermen are hard pressed and go into deep sea for bigger fish volumes. As monsoon approaches this becomes a race against weather. Kolis are dare devil and ready to take on to anyone. But he respects father sea (darya sagar) and aware of his ultimate power.

- Monsoon: This is a lean season. This time Kolis anchors their boats on jetty firmly. Where possible they take out boats and store them on the ground. This is the time for annual maintenance of there boats, nets and other tools. This is the time they spend in waxing the boats, repairing the cracks, holes and damages to the boats. Repairing of existing nets and waving new nets is a big time indoor activity during this season. Dry fish is commenly used to sustain the pressure on financial side during this season.

- Narali punaw: This is “The day” for kolis. As per traditions kolis know that after this day the wind strength and direction changes in favor of fishing. This is the day when kolis celebrate the kick off of new business season. This is the day when they pray to god sea and make puja of their boats and begins their fishing season.

- Winter: This is initial tough season where kolis need to battle with the subsiding weather and try to be first on the best fishing locations. Big fishermen with large boats are often ahead of this race. This is the season which is very important for quicker turnaround.

- Summer: This is peak season.

- Sale cycle: Once fishing boats returns to the Bandar, they are welcomed (traditionally with dance). This is the time when everyone in family gets good food to eat. The major portion of collected fishing is distributed against cash and kind. Depending upon the quantity in hand the distribution takes place. Once distributed, the stock goes to big cities through cold storage. There are quite a few folks who are dependent upon the domestic sale cycle in which the koli women takes 50-70 KG of fish in topali to local or nearby market for domestic sell. There are quite a few traditional kolis still dependent upon this domestic sales cycle.

Koli names and Hierarchy

- Nakhawa: The one who controls sukanu (wheel) and guides the direction of the boat

- Dolkar: The one who is responsible in maintaining the nets and putting the nets in sea to catch fish.

- Tandel: The one who may own the boat and main supervisor.

- Helkar: The helpers who help in net transportation, pulling net from sea, and many activities on the boat.

Fishing tools

- Bokshi: Funnel shaped net which has long tail at the center of the funnel. The length of this net would easily go upoto 30-40 meters. This is designed to use in the V shaped water director. This water director is artificially constructed in the area to direct the low tide water in to the center of the long V. The Bokshi is placed at the center point of the V shaped water director. The concept works when the returning low tide water rushes through the V shape it gets concentrated at the center. Everything including fish gets drifted to the center of this V and gets trapped in the Funnel shaped bokshi. The tail of the bokshi is long net which starts from more then 10x10 feets and ends close to 2x2 feet or smaller. The end of this tail has a removable net in the similar shape. Once the low tide water force is bearable, this end piece of the bokshi is full of fish and all the other junk things is removed. The fish are then sorted out from the rest of the waste.

- Waane: This is a plane long net with the weights (of shisa) at one long edge and floaters (wood or thermocol) on other long edge used usually just before high tide. This is long enough to block section of water such a way that fish in the area will be caught between net and land. This long net is rolled and kept ready on the ground. This is covered with some weights to ensure that it doesn’t float in the water. There are bamboo poles which are firmly arranged in the appropriate distance (20-30 feets). Once the water level is appropriate, the weight is removed from the net and the entire net is brought up to the water surface level with the help of floaters which are already attached to the edge of the net. This net is then firmly tide to the bamboos. With this the entire area of water is blocked and no fish can escape from this net. Now fishermen can start catching the fish with the help of Paag, Zelta or other means while pushing all the fish towards waane net. This net is often stretch few feets above water level to ensure that some species of fish which could jump out of water, can not escape.

Paag: is smaller (about 10-15 feet long) funnel shaped net where outer long edge of funnel is attached with weights (shies) which ensure that the edge will touch the bottom of the land. The center of this funnel is long narrow portion of few inches which has a short rope which is usually tied to waist or hand. This net is meant and designed for single person use. This net is thrown in water where fish concentration is observed. There is a technique of how to through this net and how to pull it together ensuring that the fish is caught in the center of the funnel of the net. This can be used in moderately shallow waters (less then 10 feets)

- Zelte: This is a very small net which is triangular in shape and has sticks at two edges of the triangle and weights at the front edge. Both the sticks are used in triangular shape while submerging the net slowly covering the area pushing the fish towards edge of the water. This is also to be used by single person and very easy and flexible to use. This can be used only in very shallow (4-2 feets) waters.

Fish names
- Bombil: Bombay duck

- Waam:

- Kaata

- Shingala: Mackerel

- Ghol

- Boire

- Surmai:

- Chimbori: Salt water crabs

- Niwatya: Dragon fish

- Saraga: Pomphrate

Staple food

- Dhan: Boiled rice

- roti : Roti made of boiled rice wheet. http://annaparabrahma.blogspot.com/2006/10/chavlachi-roti.html

- kanji: Very light curry with hardly any meat/fish

- ambat: Fish curry

- ukar: Thick gravy with fish primarily bombil.

- Shimga

- holi

- Narali punaw - raksha bandhan

- Gatari

- Pithori

- Ganpati

- Palakhi

- Gawdevi jatra


- Ekveera : http://www.geocities.com/nilesh_priya/images/ekviradevi1.jpg

- Khandoba :

- Jivdani

- Gawdevi

- Hanuman

- Ram


- Payari la pai lawaw

- Pani badalaw

- Sakharpuda

- Halad

- Lagin

- Gondhal

Cloths & Costuoms
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