Visakhapatnam

Gangamma Jatara a low-key affair

People offering prayers to Gangamma in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday.

People offering prayers to Gangamma in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday.  

Fisherfolk offer prayers in small groups without any fanfare

The impact of COVID-19 lockdown was quite visible as the customary Gangamma Jatara observed by the fisherfolk before commencement of annual fishing season turned out to be a low-key event on Tuesday.

The usual fanfare with many dancing to the drum beats and hit numbers from Tollywood was conspicuous by absence. The police warned of severe action if fisherfolk violated lockdown norms by indulging in dances and taking out processions in large numbers.

Since long, fishermen sporting colourful dresses accompanied by women and children carrying coconuts, pots of water and milk laced with turmeric and vermilion go the sea and worship Gangamma, the goddess of water, with prayers for good harvest post-ban.

This time, they went in small groups comprising three to five persons to offer the holy water and fruits to Gangamma, their presiding deity.

The usual folk dances and celebration with a grand feast were missing. After the festival, about 30 to 35% of total 700-odd boats went on short voyage due to severe shortage of ice, Dolphin Boat Operators’ Welfare Association president Ch. Satyanarayana Murthy told The Hindu.

Season advanced

The Centre advanced the fishing season by reducing annual fishing ban observed since April 15 to June 15 following a request from some States.

Their contention was that the fishermen’s livelihood was already hit due to the lockdown which came into force from March 24, ahead of the ban period.

Though the new season was permitted to start on June 1, the fishermen in Visakhapatnam, the largest fish landing centre in Andhra Pradesh with an estimated export turnover of over ₹8,000 crore, decided to commence venturing into sea from evening of June 2 (Tuesday) after observing Gangamma Jatara.

Ice shortage

The sudden advancement caught the 20-odd ice plants unawares as they faced severe shortage of workers, who migrated back to their native places in Odisha leaving them little time to make preparation to make ice.

“Most of those who went for voyage could get one tonne of ice each so as to take up fishing for one or two days,” Joint Director of Fisheries K. Phaniprakash said. Those going for voyage post-ban are expected to return with rich harvest of brown shrimp.

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Printable version | Jul 16, 2020 8:30:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/gangamma-jatara-a-low-key-affair/article31734224.ece

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