This festival is celebrated all over India by the people for whom the sea is a means of living, particularly the fishermen. By virtue of this, the festival is primarily celebrated on the Western Coast, as India's fish trade is concentrated in that area. It is very popular in Mumbai, where the Kolis, the fishing tribe celebrates the festival with much gusto. Nariyal Purnima is celebrated on the Full moon day of Shravan (July-August) the same day as Rakhi Purnima or Rakhi.
When the gray clouds recede and the tides turn, when the surging waters of the sea calm down, comes the time for thanks-giving to god Varun who rules over the moods and tempers of the vast sea. It is the festival for all those who depend on the sea for their livelihood. Therefore, Sea-god Varun, a Vedic deity of considerable importance in the Puranic pantheon, is worshiped on this day. Coconuts are thrown into the sea as offerings to Varun. Hence, this day has come to be known as Nariyal Purnima.
Coconut has three eyes and is believed to represent Lord Shiva - the three-eyed god. Coconut plays a prominent role in all religious offerings. When embarking upon any new enterprise, coconut is broken before the family deity, the water is splashed on the idol and pieces of coconut are distributed.
The day is extremely significant for the fishermen as it signifies the end of the heavy rains.
They decorate their boats with colorful flags and a fresh coat of paint, and take it out to the seas.
They sing songs of praise for Lord Varun and finally after worshipping the coconut, immerse it in the seas, as an offering to Lord Varun.
They implore him to give them a good supply of fish catch for the coming season.
The women and children of the fishermen celebrate on the shore. They dance and sing their traditional songs.
Sweets such as the coconut barfi are distributed amongst the kids who for once are given a respite from their books and the women anoint each other's forehead with kumkum as a sign of the prosperity that awaits them.