Religion has become an important part of the coastal landscape. As the folklore suggests, Gods and Goddesses, Saints or ‘Pirs’ of the sea who, through their spiritual powers have saved the ships and crew from the disasters of the sea. On the coast, religion has to do with customs to ensure safe voyages, or a large catch or a favorable monsoon so that fishing could resume. Many Hindu and Muslim shrines are found in the port towns of Gujarat. Thus the ports not only act as nodes for movement of commodities and capital but also are cultural nodes.
The influence of the sea has always inspired religiosity. This shows the faith of the seafaring communities upon which various rituals and traditions are found. The coastal people considered the sea as a divine and spiritual space where the Gods reside. Humans have always feared the unknown, especially the sea and that is why they seek to overcome this fear through such reverence. In this respect, an important tradition is the observance of the ‘ Dariyai navu varsh’ or Maritime New Year for setting out to sea.¹ This not only provided spiritual foundations to shipping and ship building but also inculcated a sense of security during the voyages.