Nature plays an important role in traditional occupations or professions of a region. As we observe, ‘geographical niches’ have conditioned everyday life of inhabitants therein from pre-historic ages. We observe such conditioning of people living on coastlines too.
Recently, there was a news-item in Kannada vernacular newspaper (Udayavani, 21st July, 2017). It reported sighting of ‘kadaluda madi’ (wastes of sea in form of woody substances), washed ashore at Malpe beach. This is a phenomenon observed during July-August. This is a natural process how the sea cleans itself by throwing out the ‘madi’ to shoreline. This coincides with the process of calming of the sea after a stormy weather.
Returning of calmness to sea after the stormy summer monsoon (May end to July-August) is called ‘Palke booruni’ In Tulu. Ferocious tidal waves subside, yielding place to normal waves. This is a condition when sea water is placid and calm. Waves are not so threatening to fisher-folk for venturing into sea by boats.
Heavy rain water washes down all kinds of tid bits of wood, logs and leaves, fruits and seeds like pallekkayi and akrot,( apricot: with heart-shaped nut with brown-yellow hard outer-cover) from forest areas to rivers through ‘pallas’ (water collected naturally at low lying areas), canals and streams. These pieces of forest waste are drained into sea when these rivers debauch into sea near the sea-river mouth (estuary) known as aluve or alivey in Tulu.
Factors of Palke
Calmness of sea water occurs for various reasons. The factors are:
1.Action of under-currents of sea makes erosion at bank and creates ‘barakane’ (sand-walls) at the bank. Normally a shore-parallel depression develops in the sea bed, quite close to the shore. This is called a fault in geological parlance or gundi-barakane booruni in Tulu parlance.
These pits or ponds are not found in entire stretch of coastline. At some place sea bed is flat near shore.This can be understood by the fact that ‘palke booruni’ is not uniform in the entire stretch of shoreline though ‘madi’ is scattered on beachline.
2.In some coastal villages, water-bodies (i.e. canals, streams and rivers) are running parallel to sea coastline. As observed by the writer during his native high school days, the chance of occurrences of ‘palke booruni’ is more at this stretch than at other places. In other areas sea is rough at the same time. He observed such palke occurrence in Chitrapur area, i.e. the stretch of coast between Hosabettu and Baikampadi. Storm water drainage used to flow through a ‘Bailare’ (a flood zone) and drained to Gurupura River near Kulur-Panambur before implementation of the Projects of Fertilizer Plant and New Mangalore Harbour at Panambur. This natural canal was bye-passed to sea near Baikampadi thereafter (Read our Post: Debacle of a place called Bailare’).
Formative years of the writer are spent in a coastal village. He used to play a game of ‘pallekkayi’, collected from the sea-shore. One more memory connected with sea is collecting of small coins while there are ‘barakanes’. Coins, which are thrown into sea as offering on certain religious rituals, surface on such sand-wall. While returning from school, we children used to take beach route to home. I noticed in later life pallekkayi and akrot are included in ‘Bālaguti’ along with other roots and fruits/seeds like Badām (almond).
Spawning of fish
Monsoon is fish-spawning time. Fish thrive in such deeper ponds, filled with woody substances. Hence ‘palke booruni’ is harbinger of fishing season.
Cast-net (Beesana) Fishing
Cast-net fishing is common during this period as sea waves are sober at ‘palke booruni’ places. So country boats venture into sea to catch fish by throwing round nets (beesanigeda bale). Boats from neighbouring villages too throng to this stretch of calm sea. These boats are pushed through shallow shore waters. Common catch is ‘etti’ (prawns), kuruchi, a thorny fish and nangu, a flat fish.
At times, kai-ramponi type of fishing is also carried on (a smaller version ramponi, which is now extinct). The catch is called as ‘kare meenu’, which is a common name for group of fish thriving near shore (= kare).
On full-moon day of August (Shravan Pournami), fisher-folk worship the sea and throw coconuts to the sea, praying the Sea God to bestow them with bountiful catch of fish. This ritual is called ‘Samudra Pooje or Poojan’. Fishing season starts from this day.
This day of ritual is known by many names as Nārikela or Nālikera Pournami (i.e. Coconut Day or Nāriel Pournima in Hindi-speaking Belt), and Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi. This day sisters tie sacred threads to wrist of their brothers or brotherly friends. This sacred knot of sisterly-brotherly love is believed to protect their brothers. They do ‘arati’ (waving of sacred light) to their brothers, apply vermilion ‘Tilak’ on their foreheadsand feed them with sweetmeats. This is a symbolic ritual when brothers vow to protect their sisters. They give presents to their sisters.
As I observe, ‘palke or palike’ is nothing but pieces of woody substances drained to sea through rivers. So ‘palke’ is same as ‘madi’. While ‘madi’ has a narrow meaning ‘palke’ has a wider connotation as is explained in foregoing paragraphs. Another meaning of palke(palike) is ‘a valley, slope or low lying area on mountainous or hilly area’. Depth on sea-shore, created by slippage action as aforesaid, can be compared to the other meaning of palke(palike).
Action of Nature is instrumental in undisturbed fish spawning, thereby balancing the fish production against the rigorous fish harvesting of previous year. This ensures a steady flow of catch to fishermen. Intensive or excessive fishing is detrimental to fisher-folk as well as the Nation.
September 15, 2017