Koli Women Poetry Convention

To Conserve Our Linguistic Heritage of the Seven Island

Happy Koli (indigenous Fisherfolk of Mumbai) language day!

Since year 2020 Tandel Fund Of Archives announced 1st September As Koli (indigenous Fisherfolk of Mumbai) language day, a local language of Mobai/ Mumbai. Tandel Fund of Archives invites you to celebrate Koli Language day, In remembrance of concerns regarding the waning of the Koli language. The celebration will start with hearing old oral narratives and chatting with Akhila Koli Samaja va Sanskriti Sanvardhana Sanghatana (Society For The Promotion Of Social And Culture Of Kolis), Mumbai, lets hear from founders, why we need these kind of organizations in these eternities of displacements and diaspora? It is very much important to understand the relevance of LOCAL in this so called globalization period.

Embracing the roots
A linguistically distinct community that originated on the shores of the seven islands far stretched along the fringe of the landmass is culturally rich as the abundance of the ocean which resides along their coast. The nature of the waves immerges from the depths of the ocean helped create a rhythm in the native language of the Koli’s (fisherfolks). The language that developed in the seven islands as the (bolibhasha) a parlance which is part of their daily life. The rhythmic sound of which resembles the flow of the waves which meet their shores.

Most of the Koli Language exist in oral form as it is spoken during their everyday practices like the ritualistic practices and their occupational practice too. The belongingness of the people who have existed in this place is very much evident and that reflects in Koli language and native abilities and qualities since their birth. The language exhibits strong kinship ties with deeper roots in the worship of family deities as well as the goan dev and devi of each Koliwada in the form of folksongs which are practiced for the evocation of the deities during rituals by the village Dhavlarins (priestess) who till date conduct all the ritualistic practices. These folk songs in the later described the daily practices of the Koliwada’s in which the language was pre-dominantly used. The prominent among these dialects that originated from the regions they are located like Son Kolis who live along the shores have a balanced pulsive tone, the Mangela Koli’s speak some words from Marathi with a Gujarathi influence on it, while as the Agri Koli’s language is basically originated as an occupational language.

This native language which later was invaded created variations as the community went through invasions which created cross-cultural jargons of the language For. e.g. like the East-Indian which the native Koli’s practice in Vasai where most of the part was invaded by the Portuguese and later by the British whose imprints are evident from the language that the natives speak till this day. These invasions created cross-cultural jargons of the language though were foreign to the ancestors were accepted by them keeping in mind their own cultural roots and at the same time showing acceptance about other cultures in-order to create bonds with varied cultures while keeping the freedom to express intact.

Now-a-days this language is orally practiced by some of the Koli communities in their daily life but the documentation of which is not evidently recorded in any specific form by the community. This initiative to record the anecdotes to revive the language is what we are looking into in the form of narratives from within the community in their own native language to revive it. The involvement of the fisherfolk men who go to sea and the experiences they have in the vast oceans requires a brave heart to conquer the vivid moods of nature in the vast far stretched ocean and the narratives of the fisherfolk women who independently run the household when the men are at sea.