Kolis , Fish and Mumbai

Fishing and men have an historic relationship. Fishing is one of the oldest hereditary occupations. Be it sea, be it a river or a pond- fishing for food, fishing for fun, fishing for trade, fishing has always been there. The fishing villages, fishing countries have a fabulous history.

India , with her long coastal peninsula and mighty rivers like the Ganga, Narmada, Godavari has a wide variety of fishing zones. Mumbai- originally a cluster of seven islands , later reclaimed, was a fishing heaven. It’s earliest inhabitants have been the people of the fishing community – the ‘ Kolis ‘.

The ‘ Kolis ‘ are famous for their fish , food, dance, songs, flamboyance , jewellery,  koyta ( a weapon, a type of question mark shaped cutting and chopping knife) and courage. They wear colorful dresses , jewellery and sing some melodious songs too. Their songs are known as ‘ Koli Geetay ‘ . Many music companies have recorded these renditions and  some of them are popular even amongst the people who don’t understand their language…Their dance form known as ‘ Koli Nrutya ‘ (‘ Koli Dance ‘) is a vivacious, fast dance form. They revere the sea a lot. They celebrate ‘ Narali Purnima'(a festival ) by offering coconut to the sea. It is a day of thanking the sea.

The men fish ,while the women of the community are the ones who sell the fish and other sea food in the marketplace. Traditionally, this has been followed for ages. Now, people from their community are seeking education in many fields and venturing into many different professions.

Now, Mumbai is a melting pot of cultures.But a vivacious Koli family will always have a significant historic place in the cultural canvas of the city -Mumbai.

Being a vegetarian, I don’t eat fish. But I have always loved and respected the courage of the fishermen . They risk their lives for every fishing trip…

Now, a few verses for the fish eaters and lovers:

It is a blessing :

To enjoy an afternoon siesta in the shady lawns

After having a delicious dish of prawns…

To make the taste buds feel great

After eating the very dear pomfret…

To hold and grab

The plate of crab…

To forget the studious semester

And feast on the lovely lobster….


It is a blessing to Eat Fish…


Kolis , Fish and Mumbai

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