~ Sea lexicon ~

Barisham – Title for the Story
Language: Jeseri
Location: Lakshadweep
Contributor: Lakshmi Pradeep

Barisham is the Jeseri word for the south-western monsoon. The monsoon is considered a lifesaving boon for islanders of the Lakshadweep. The rainwater that gets trapped in the creeks and crevices of coral rocks becomes a source of freshwater for the year. The wind that rotates in various directions during this season, helps actually form the island, shifting sands around. However, no fishing takes place during monsoon and the boats are kept back to the sheds. The inter-island transport using vessels comes to a halt in monsoon as the sea gets rough. Barisham is a period of homecoming for many islanders. They bring back goods from the mainland which used to be stored in pathayam, and later used for functions like marriages. It rains from the end of May to July. The north eastern monsoon is referred to as Karakkattu. If the season gets bad, special Islamic prayers called maulood are conducted in the mosques for island protection.

Lakshadweep islanders determine the onset of the monsoon based on the Ahrab star. The wind that blows from the direction of the Ahrab star is named Arhab kattu. When this wind starts flowing, the islanders prepare themselves for barisham or the rainy season. Monsoon on the Lakshadweep Islands are markers of time. This season of rain determines the patterns of travel, … and more. The drinking water  sources on the islands get filled during the heavy rains from May to September. The south west monsoon is perceived as both boon and bane. In this season, the islanders return to their homes. It is also the season for weddings and gifts. The wind patterns during the monsoon carries the sand away and deposits elsewhere creating changes in the island environment. This is a cyclical process and is not seen as a cause of worry. Many of the islander stories are linked to the monsoon. The wind songs from Kitlan island are folklore sung by women who await their husbands back home before the onset of monsoon. No fishing is conducted during monsoon as the sea will be rough. Islanders depend on dried fish and coconut during this season. Travel during monsoon is hectic due to the rough seas and heavy tides. When people get stuck on the mainland due to bad weather, this is referred to as phadari. Some of the cyclones have created havoc on the islands. Barisham or the rainy season creates havoc if it is accompanied by tufan or cyclones. In today’s parlance of tourism, this time of inactivity is referred to as ‘off-season’ when ironically it is the most happening of seasons!

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