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Tale of Narali Purnima

Ramesh Savaikar NT NETWORK

Narali Purnima, also known as Coconut Day, is an important Hindu festival that is celebrated with great zeal, fervour and gaiety in Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and the Konkan region.

It is celebrated on the full moon night of the Hindu month Sharvana. This year the festival is on August 14.

Fishermen perform the puja of naral (coconut) and offer it to the sea. They offer prayers to Lord Varuna (God of the Sea) and ask him to calm the sea during the turbulent monsoon season. The community observes a fast on this day and the festival marks the onset of the fishing season.

After the offering is done they sail into the sea in decorated boats, and return to shore after a short trip. They spend the rest of the day with their families celebrating various festivals. A special sweet dish made from coconut is distributed to family members as prasad.

A legend associated with narali purnima suggests that the ritual is to thank Lord Varuna for holding the bridge (Ram-Setu) aloft. The bridge is said to have enabled Lord Rama to go to Lanka as per the Ramayana. As a gesture of gratitude towards Mother Nature, the community plants coconut trees along the coast.

This festival is also celebrated as shravani purnima with devotees performing rituals like ‘upanayana’ and ‘yagyopaveet’ (sacred thread). The devotees also worship and offer prayers to Lord Shiva as it is believed that the three marks of the coconut are a depiction of the three-eyed Lord Shiva.

The Brahmins in Maharashtra and Goa perform a religious ritual shravani upakarma. They fast, chant mantras like the Gayatri mantra and wear the new yagynopaveet whilst discarding the old one. They consume only tender coconut water and break their fast after sunset.

In Goa, this festival is celebrated by the Hindus as suta punav. The festivities include the preparation of a sweet dish called naivaidya, which is made from coconut and rice (naral bhat). On this day the male family members wear yagynopaveet while women fast.  The fishing community celebrates this festival to ward off untoward incidents that may occur while they sail in the sea. It is also celebrated by those involved in salt production and other activities related to the sea.

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