Kolis - DOT-Maharashtra Tourism

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Kolis

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Kolis are a community and also a tribe in India. Koli is the fishermen community, while Koli as a tribe has their independent ethnic identity.

Unique Features

Kolis, the fishermen, are found in all coastal states like 
Gujarat, Maharashtra. It has various subtypes such as Son 
Koli, Macchimar Koli, Christian Koli, Vaiti Koli, and Mangela 
Koli are fishermen by profession located across India. Fishing 
is their prime occupation and means of survival. They are 
along the North Konkan coast from Vasai, near Mumbai city to 
Ratnagiri district in south Maharashtra among subtypes known 
as Dhor-Koli, Mahadev-Koli, Malhar Koli. In Maharashtra, they 
can be classified into two distinct categories. The one who is 
into fishing and the other who are into agriculture. The Sonkoli
are economically better-off and culturally progressive and that 
is the reason they are not classified into the scheduled tribes 
like the Dhor-Koli, Mahadev-Koli, Malhar Koli. Sonkoli-s are 
primarily found in the coastal region, while the remaining are 
usually inhabitants of the mountainous region. 
Generations of these Koli-s have been in this fishing 
occupation as their profession along the coastal belt of 
Maharashtra, stretching from Palghar up to Terekhol, the 
southern tip of coastal Maharashtra, with very distinctive 
customs, social, religious and cultural lifestyles. Festivals, folk 
dances and beliefs are part of the culture of fishermen. The 
main festivals celebrated by the fisherfolks are Ram-Navami, 
Narali Purnima, Gokulashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Dasara, 
Mahashivratri and Holi. The festival of Narali Purnima holds 
pride of place during the festival season. 
During the recent past, there has been rapid commercialization 
of fishing and related businesses and have resulted in several 
and severe challenges being posed for their survival. Today 
this technique of fishing, “Dol” has been replaced by 
commercial fishing using highly mechanised trawlers. Only 
commercial fishing companies use trawlers, as the cost of 
procurement is not affordable by the local fishing communities. 
The uncontrolled fishing by these trawlers has led to depletion 
in fish breeding. In addition to this, the traditional fishing 
season periods are not normally honoured by the commercial 
fishing companies and thereby further depleting the catch as 
they encroach in the fish breeding seasons. During the 
monsoon season, between June and August, fishermen stop 
going out to sea as their small boats because of the high tide 
and turbulent sea. 
Unless there is some intervention by the state government in 
these issues mentioned above, the future for this aboriginal 
community is bleak. Since the community has been practising 
this trade from the hunting and gathering stage of human 
existence and as fishing is considered one such profession of 
hunting and gathering, there should be some protectionist 
measures to preserve nature and the community.

Cultural Significance

Generations of these Koli-s have been in this fishing occupation as their profession along the coastal belt of Maharashtra, stretching from Palghar up to Terekhol, the southern tip of coastal Maharashtra, with very distinctive customs, social, religious and cultural lifestyles.
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