Narali Purnima festival also known as Coconut Day is an important festival dedicated to the Hindu God of the Sea – Varuna. The festival of Narali Purnima or the Coconut festival is celebrated with great fervour and in a jubilant manner by fisher-folk community of the western coastal regions of India. It is observed on the ‘Purnima’ (full moon day) in the month of ‘Shravana’ in the Hindu calendar and therefore referred to as ‘Shravana Purnima’. This year Narali Purnima falls on August 22, 2021.
Narali Purnima Significance
Narali Purnima is observed with great zeal and enthusiasm in Maharashtra and adjoining Konkani regions. People from the fisherman community celebrate this festival to ward off unwanted incidents while sailing upon the sea. The festival marks the end of the monsoon season in Maharashtra and the beginning of the fishing and the water-trade amongst the fisherfolk. Thus, the fishermen offer prayers and worship the sea-God, Varuna, for a smooth journey out on the waters. Dancing and singing are an integral part of this festival. The festival of Narali Purnima is indicative of the coming year that will be filled with happiness, joy and wealth.
Narali Purnima Rituals
1. Just a few days before the festival, fishermen repair their old fishing nets, paint their old boats or new boats are purchased or fishing nets are made. Then the boats are decorated with colourful buntings or flower garlands.
2. Devotees on the day of festival worship the sea god Varuna asking Varuna protection and blessings for a prosperous fishing season ahead.
3. The Brahmins (Priests) in the state of Maharashtra perform the ‘Shravani Upakarma’ and keep a fast on this day without consuming any form of grains. They keep the fast by eating only coconut all day long.
4. On the day of the festival, the traditional food which involves coconut is prepared like naraali bhaat or coconut rice.
5. The sea is holy to the fishermen as it is a means for their survival. They also make sacred offerings to the boats (sprinkle with holy water, chanting of prayers, waving of the sacred flame).
6. After completing the sacred offerings, fishermen sail in the sea, in their ornately decorated boats. After making a short trip, they return to the shore and spend the rest of the day with dancing and singing.
The Sea God Varuna
About Lord Varuna
Lord Varuna is revered in Hinduism as the God of water and his sway extends to the underwater world. The Hindu Goddess Varuni is his consort and a Makara (crocodile) serves as his mount. According to the Puranas, he is the son of sage Kashyapa and one of the twelve Gods considered as Adityas, owing to their origin from the Mother of Gods, Aditi. Varuna possesses the lordship of the waters and was entrusted with the task of overseeing the clouds and rains. He is thus known as the king of waters and controls the Oceans, Seas, Rivers, and all other water bodies. During the Mahabharata period, the great Pandava, Arjuna was hailed as the son of Lord Varuna. It is also widely believed that praying to him protects from thunder and lighting.
Qualities of Lord Varuna
Lord Varuna is considered one among the oldest Vedic deities and his presence pervades the entire world. Since he is associated with the clouds, rains, water, rivers and oceans, he is regarded as the sustainer of life by providing rain and crops. Several temples dedicated to him exist on the Indian sub-continent and he is depicted riding on a crocodile or riding a chariot drawn by seven swans, holding a lotus, noose, conch, and a vessel of gems. He is also shown with an umbrella over his head and sometimes associated as a God carrying a serpent.
Lord Varuna is also revered in his role as a God of Law and the Underworld and said to possess the attributes of a Solar deity. He is also closely associated with the night and the moon planet. Varuna is held in high regard in Vedic texts which venerate him as the omnipotent force of the Universe and also associate him with the Lord of the Heavens, Indra. Also regarded as the guardian of the western direction, Lord Varuna is one of the important Gods in the Hindu pantheon. Varuna is also revered in several religions across the world, including Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Shintosim.
The mantra for Lord Varuna is Om Varunaaya Namaha