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Shimga Festival – Holi of Mangela Kolis in Mumbai

Mangela Kolis are a fishing community residing in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The annual Holi festival of the community is known as Shimga and is celebrated in a unique way.

Suhasinis (married women) perform puja in front of a selected betel nut tree trunk (arecanut tree). It is then ceremoniously brought to the village.

The Kolis look upon the tree-trunk as a goddess and venerate it. It is treated like a bride.

Women anoint it with turmeric paste and bath it by pouring water over it. It is the dressed with flowers.

This is followed by the ceremony of ‘Oti Bharan’ – lap filling. This is similar to the ritual dedicated to a bride. Betel nuts, paan, coconuts, veni comb and mirror, rice and dry fruits are placed in a yellow cloth and the bundle is tied to the tree trunk.

The arecanut tree is then taken out in a procession around the wadi or village. It is then erected in a pit at a chosen spot.

A puja is the performed and various offerings including sweets are placed in front of the tree.

Dressed in their best, men and women dance around the tree throughout the night – they eat, drink and rejoice. Early morning a bonfire is lit around the base of the tree trunk. When it falls down, it is taken in a procession to the sea for immersion.