Lagoon Fest : Celebrating nature, culture and community of Lakshadweep

By Kumar Sahayaraju

Beach and lagoon cleanup
Beach and lagoon cleanup
Lagoon-themed painting competition for children
Lagoon-themed painting competition for children
Panel discussion led by senior fishers
Panel discussion led by senior fishers

Lakshadweep Islands’ spectacular coral atolls, azure lagoons, white beaches, and thriving marine life have received much attention recently, making them an increasingly popular destination for tourists. However, the warm and welcoming local inhabitants, their relationships with the beaches, reefs, and lagoons, their unique culture and cuisine, maritime knowledge and skills, and the fragility of these islands are often forgotten. 

Through a series of engaging activities that united the youth, women, children, and elders of the community, the Lagoon Fest became a pivotal event in celebrating the deep-rooted connections between the Lakshadweep people and their islands. The three-day extravaganza on Agatti Island saw the active participation of local communities, government departments, tourism operators, youth clubs, and village institutions, fostering a sense of collective action and celebration of their local knowledge, culture, and cuisine. This event served as a powerful reminder of the fragility of these islands, underlining the value of coastal spaces, including the beaches, lagoons, and the islands, for the collective well-being of these islands and their inhabitants.

Some of the key highlights of these three days on Agatti Island include:

  1. Beach and lagoon cleanup: A thorough beach and lagoon cleanup activity was held at the western jetty of Agatti with active support and participation from the local SHGs, Village Dweep Panchayat, Department of Forests, dive centres, tour operators, Lakshadweep Tourism (SPORTS) and youth clubs of Agatti Island. More than 800 kilograms of waste was removed from the lagoons and beaches. New trash bins were handed over to the Panchayat as part of the “Use Bins Save Billam” campaign, which will be placed on the beaches to collect garbage in the lagoon and on the beach.
  2. Beach games and competitions: Fun-filled beach games, including tug-of-war, a swimming competition for fishermen, a beach throwball competition for women, and a lagoon-themed painting competition for children, were organised. The activity aims to highlight the importance of the beach and lagoon as recreational spaces for coastal communities, not just for tourists.
  3. Food fest: Aligning with #KhaneKeLiyeBachao, which underscores the need to safeguard ecosystems through culturally sensitive conservation, Dakshin showcased the nutritional linkages between the islanders and the sea in a delectable culinary experience featuring an array of seafood dishes prepared by local Self-Help Groups (SHGs).
  4. Indigenous talk – A captivating panel discussion led by senior fishers, who shared their rich experiences of past island life, served as a poignant reminder of the lagoon and beaches’ cultural significance. This insightful session not only highlighted the importance of the lagoon and beaches for island life but also underscored the deep cultural heritage of Lakshadweep, leaving the audience with a profound sense of appreciation. 
  5. Grand finale: The three-day program culminated with a prize distribution ceremony to recognise participants’ efforts. The event concluded with captivating cultural arts and dance performances showcasing Lakshadweep’s rich cultural heritage.

Reflecting on these three days of festivities, we cannot but admire the passion, dedication, and warmth of the people of Lakshadweep. They are the best stewards of these islands and need all possible support to keep their islands healthy and productive.