Most of the southern coastal areas in Sri Lanka are hotbeds for surfing with constant waves even during off season (which is how this place landed on my bucketlist two years ago). However, that also makes it harder for the locals to go fishing by the shoreline. Enter stilt fishing (ritipanna) — a unique practice to Sri Lanka. They catch the small fish that get caught in the tide with their fishing rods (pitta), while propped up on stilts to protect themselves from being pounded back to shore.
We were just passing through Ahangama (in the south) on our way to northern Sri Lanka when we made our driver stop for a closer look. The fishermen ask for 1,000 Sri Lankan rupees (around 300 pesos) to take (unli) photos, but as they only sell each small fish for 5 rupees (averaging a catch of 150-200 fish per day), it was a payment we were happy to make.
I read an article that said this was a dying practice, a result of the tsunami that devastated the Sri Lankan coast in 2004. The altered coastline now yields fewer fish, making it impractical for “fathers to pass on the tradition to their sons”. Today, some people just set up the stilts and hire actors to sit on top of them “for the ‘gram”. Frankly, that version of the story sounds incredibly dull and disappointing. On the other hand, these cultural changes are the signs of the times, and maybe there is something poetic in its demise — born of water, but then also torn by water ✨🌊🎣 #srilanka #culture #stiltfishing #fishing #waves #tides #fishermen #fisherfolk #travel #ritipanna #pitta #kithul #kaduru