Fishing Chants From Kerala

The magnificent and popular Chinese fishing nets in Fort Kochi, Kerala attract many tourists from across the world. Of the many fishermen, a team led by a Maharashtrian fisherman who has transformed this into a sport of sorts with just a chant.

When the Chinese arrived at this beautiful estuary during the 14th century to install the famous fishing nets, the area looked so much like China that they called it “Co-Chin” meaning “Like China.” Unlike the name, the fishing nets have survived the test of time and weaved themselves into Kochi’s everyday life.The fishermen at these Chinese fishing nets work incredibly hard to fish from sea that makes up so much of the incredible seafood around here. We met one of the best performing teams in the region to find out what their secret is, and to our surprise, it has nothing to do with fishing! Maybe in hope to catch a few fish in the summer heat or maybe to show the tourists of their ability for a few dollars or rupees, they pull and push stones that lift and submerge a huge trebuchet disguised as a fishing net.

The leader of the team, who moved to Kochi from a small fishing town in Maharashtra, choreographs his fishermen to a rhythm. He starts to chant in Marathi that sets the team to a synchronized movement. In that moment, one could surely call it a team sport than a fishing technique.

The demand for more fish forces them to do almost 250 rounds everyday from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. so that they can earn a penny or two more. As a result, most of them suffer from chronic pains, abnormally bent spines and extremely charred fingers. But surely, we could learn a thing or two about turning our bleakest moments in life into the brightest from these athletic fishermen.

Their welcoming smiles and friendly gestures will never tell you but their physical appearances show the toll this sport cum job takes on them.

“If we look at life like a sport, winning and losing becomes part of the game. Maybe we’ll win and lift a lot of fish or maybe we’ll lose and lift hardly any. My mother told me to turn my failures into opportunities. So we turn our failures during summer into tourist attractions”
— leader of the fishing team